Costumer. Dresser. Shopper. Draper. Designer. Stitcher. Union Member. Supervisor. These are just some of the titles worn by 2008 Central Michigan University Theatre and Dance Graduate, Jaime Samson. Now fully established on Broadway, Jaime has fulfilled a dream earned through a decade of grind, taking risks and being the right person at the right time in the right place. His story is a study in combining the technical skills gained through his experience at CMU and graduate school with a positive personality and incredible talent. These qualities helped him achieve his current role as Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor for Disney's The Lion King on Broadway.
Big-city life, for Jaime, started small-town as his love for theatre was sparked by Greenville High School productions. While he didn't know where he would end up, he knew that the Theatre and Dance program at Central Michigan University would help him get there. He says that wardrobe "isn't really on the radar for most young people. People don't really think of the tech side of the theatre. It's really lucrative, though… Broadway can never have enough talented skilled labor."
He has found that success in this field comes when you "find something you're good at and get better." CMU Professors Doris Ramsey and Ann Dasen saw that he was good and encouraged and pushed him to get better. Professor Dasen was a strong cheerleader as he moved into grad school for a Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Florida in Costume Design and Technology. And, she provided mentorship as he continued his career at the Santa Fe Opera before landing in New York City to take a day job with the TDF Costume Collection.
Jaime was hungry to apply his talents and break into the Broadway scene. After making great impressions on the Broadway production of Anything Goes, Jaime has parlayed his skills, determination and work ethic into an easily recognizable list of shows with a Who's Who list of wardrobe supervisors. Because, he says, "who you know and how you know them really matters." In the relatively small community of wardrobe professionals on Broadway, he is glad to be known as someone who is pleasant to work with and who doesn't feed into drama and gossip.
Among other shows, he worked on Memphis, Annie, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical before making it to the next level with Aladdin's wardrobe team. From there, he has shined and been promoted with such shows as Jersey Boys and the 2014 revival of On the Town. He got a nice publicity boost when he was featured in a June 2017 New York times story about the show's crazy, 300 plus costume changes he helped support for the Tony nominated Groundhog Day. After being asked to assist on Bandstand and then working directly with Jimmy Buffett on the short-lived Escape to Margaritaville, he accepted the position of Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor working with Tony Award winning designer William Ivey Long on Beetlejuice before landing his current role with Disney's The Lion King. This career is challenging. Some people really struggle to try to find a balance between work and home life. Changing jobs regularly is the nature of the business, and Monday is his only day off each week. Channeling Showgirls, he quips that you can't let yourself get complacent because, "There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you." He wants people to understand that you don't do theatre for security because "you don't really know where you'll wind up but it's a passion thing. You just gotta ride the wave and enjoy it while you can." He knows where he came from, and we join him being excited to see where the wave takes him next.