Today is a sad day for the theatre community. As people get ready to attend the tribute to actress Tana Hicken tonight at Studio Theatre, word is spreading through Facebook that Reggie Ray, beloved costume designer and Professor at Howard University, died peacefully in his sleep this morning.
Among his many achievements, Howard University lists these credits: “Reggie Ray has designed for Artistic Directors and Directors which include Debbie Allen (Kennedy Center), Al Freeman, Jr. (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse), Ron Himes (St. Louis Black Rep.), Mike Malone, (Howard University), Joy Zinoman (Studio Theatre) and countless others. Theatre Critics have recognized Ray’s designs as he was nominated and received four Woodie King Awards for Outstanding Costume Design. Currently, he is serving as the Resident Costume Designer for the St. Louis Black Repertory Company as well as Resident Designer and Instructor of Costume Design/Make-up for Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts.”
Reggie has been nominated six times for Helen Hayes Awards, the last in 2011 for Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, produced by Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre. He won for Spunk (1994) and Souvenir, A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins (2008), both done for Studio Theatre.
In 2012, Reggie spoke with Hunter Styles just before the Helen Hayes Awards: “In Costume Design, it’s not just the “best” art for that season that receives recognition, but the best development of that art and the quality of the artists’ choices. So awards don’t just go to the shows that have the biggest budgets, best support, and unlimited resources. It focuses on the creative vision.
“Ultimately we are awarded for evolving into the best artists we can be. The award is an extension of the sense of discovery that happened during the journey of that theatre’s vision, and that artist’s vision.”
Many artists have evolved into the best they can be by being taught and working with Reggie Ray. His luminance is shining brightly tonight as tributes pour into Reggie Ray’s Facebook page.
Close friend Charles Coward first notified the community this afternoon on Facebook that Reggie Ray had died.. If people would like to send condolence cards and messages, he will give them to Reggie’s mother and brothers. Send them to Reggie Ray; PO Box 1811; Greenbelt, MD 20770.
We will pass on news of services and tributes.
Reggie Ray’s costume sketches for Sophisticated Ladies
More on Reggie Ray’s YouTube channel