In the basement of this building on the campus of Webster University is a costume shop that deserves the spotlight.

"What we're seeing here are Gertrude's costumes, Gertrude is Hamlet's mother," Dottie Marshall Englis says.

She's been designing costumes for The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis since 1979.

"These are the sketches for those costumes," she points out.

Her portfolio now fills a suitcase rather than a briefcase, but in all of those years The Rep has never done Hamlet.

"Hamlet classically and in the text they always talk about how he's wearing black."

So he's in black, but she's put so much more thought into every character's costume.

"I was looking a lot for fabrics that were either dark and or had surfaces that could shift a little so you kind of got the sense are these people as shady Hamlet thinks they are," she epxlains.

They are details most of the audience will never notice and that's the way she wants it...for the most part.

"I kind of hope it's a subliminal impact. Now I don't mind when somebody comes into the room in a gown that I really intend to be beautiful or if the king comes in the room and he's wearing these amazing clothes that people for a moment go woah and take a little breath that's great."

It's a process that, for her, starts with the script.

"I sit down with the script first and do some of my own analysis...How many people are in each scene."

Then she puts pencil to paper.

"I did the drawings in July, I colored them in August and we started the show in the shop in September," Englis adds.

The end result thanks to a crazy talented team is something that even amazes her.

"I could not be more thrilled with the vision from the sketch going to the reality of the costume."

So the play might be a tragedy, but the costumes are a blessing. They're reason enough to grab a ticket to Hamlet.

You can see Dottie's work in person when Hamlet opens at The Rep Friday night at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Webster University. There are actually preview performances on Wednesday and Thursday night.

It will be on stage through November 5th. Tickets start at $18.50. Go to for more information.