Martin Pakledinaz, Tony-Winning Broadway Costume Designer, Dies at 58

Martin Pakledinaz

The veteran theater, opera and ballet designer was renowned for his witty and elegant work on period musicals, earning Tonys for "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

NEW YORK -- One of Broadway's most prolific costume designers, Martin Pakledinaz, whose work was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, died Sunday at his home in New York after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

His career spanned more than three decades, covering theater, ballet and opera. He earned his first Tony nomination in 1997 for the musical The Life and his most recent nod for Nice Work If You Can Get It, the Gershwin musical that opened in April starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara.

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Pakledinaz won Tony Awards in 2000 for Kiss Me, Kate and in 2002 for Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Other shows for which he was nominated include the 2008 Gypsy revival starring Patti LuPone; Blithe Spirit in 2009, with Rupert Everett and Angela Lansbury; and Cole Porter's Anything Goes in 2011, one of a string of productions on which he collaborated with director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall.

"Marty is a master," said the actress Sutton Foster, who wore Pakledinaz's costumes in her Tony-winning roles in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes. "He is the epitome of class and taste. My characters were defined from the fabric, the seams, the details of his work, his eye. I feel honored to call him a friend and collaborator and to be graced by his talent."

Born in 1953, Pakledinaz grew up in Sterling Heights, Mich., and went to Wayne State University in Detroit, studying directing before focusing on design. He was later accepted into the masters program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He moved to New York in 1977, working for established designers including the legendary Theoni V. Aldredge, whom he acknowledged as a mentor, calling her his "mother-in-design."

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After costuming his first Broadway production, Inacent Black, in 1981, he worked on both plays and musicals. Among his many credits were major productions of The Pajama Game, Lend Me a Tenor, Master Class, The Normal Heart, Wonderful Town and Anna Christie.

He worked frequently Off-Broadway, notably on the 2010 revival of The Glass Menagerie, starring Judith Ivey, and The Trip to Bountiful in 2005, with Lois Smith. He also designed costumes for the 2011 Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

While he designed for both modern and classical ballet, Pakledinaz's longest association in the dance world was with the choreographer Mark Morris and his company, creating costumes for many popular works including The Hard Nut. He also worked with San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet, among others.

His extensive work in opera included Stephen Wadsworth's Metropolitan Opera remounting of Iphigenie en Tauride with Placido Domingo, which was released as part of the Met Live in HD series. He had a long collaboration with opera director Peter Sellars and recently designed costumes for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis world premiere of The Golden Ticket, based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In addition to his design work, Pakledinaz taught graduate classes at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where a scholarship has been established in his name.

He is survived by six brothers, one sister, nine nieces and nephews and a godson.