One of Rosie Red’s queen-sized shoes has found its way under Randy Kent’s desk. It’s not out of place, because his company—Stagecraft, Inc.—is where Rosie’s prodigious curves, flirty skirt, and Brobdingnagian head come for maintenance. Kent got his start constructing costume characters and team mascots as a UC student working at Kings Island in the 1970s. His highly-detailed figures caught on, and today his Northside workshop is filled with some 700 fiberglass molds for character heads.
Crafting figures like the UK Wildcat and the UC Bearcat aren’t a production line affair. It
can take 100 hands-on hours to sculpt and mold the head, stitch and shape the body, and fabricate an eye-catching costume that’s durable, safe for the performer, and washable. (Although, Kent sighs in frustration, “Almost nobody launders them.”) Stagecraft’s mascot work peaked in the 1990s, when the company’s payroll numbered as many as 10 fabricators. As he approaches retirement, he’s limiting Stagecraft projects to existing clients. His company is a family operation: Wife Mary is business manager, and daughter Sarah has returned from working in Central America to sculpt mascot features and build displays for children’s museums, another Stagecraft sideline.
The plan isn’t for Sarah to take over the family business. She’s an artist with a science degree focused on entomology—the study of insects—and that’s her career goal. But as the maker of outrageous creature costumes and a future entomologist, she’s happy to be back in Cincinnati. “I’m looking forward to the return of the cicadas in 2021,” Sarah says.