Gayland Spaulding (1947-2022)
William (Gayland) Spaulding passed away in November 2022, after a long battle with illness. Spaulding was a costume and clothing designer, director and actor, remembered for his work at Court Theatre, Drury Lane, Northlight Theater, a host of off-Broadway shows, and Great Escape Stage Company in Michigan, where served as Board President. His last show was directing GESC’s 2021 production of “Mothers and Sons”. He will be remembered for his intuitive and meticulous design sense, his intricate cross stitch, his colorful socks, his love of a good book, his loyalty to his friends, and his passion for all things theater.
Spaulding was in Little York IL, where his favorite pursuits were reading and playing piano, placing 1st in statewide music contests. He attended Culver-Stockton College in Canton MS where he expanded his musical repertoire into more contemporary genres. In his sophomore year, he was introduced to theater. “It sucked me right in,” he said. In his senior year, the theater department needed someone to costume a showand although Spaulding had never designed anything and didn’t even know how to sew, he designed and built costumes for the entire show. He graduated with a BA in Music and Theatrer. While getting his Masters at Western Michigan University, he was offered the University’s Theatrical Costume Designer position, teaching that Costume Design and Interpersonal Communications for the next four years. While there, he also worked with the Kalamazoo Civic theater and other regional stage companies as a designer and actor. While performing at the Red Barn Theater in Saugatuck, he met David King, the man he would happily share his life with for 36 years.
Spaulding and King moved to NYC, where he found work fabric shopping, researching, and costume fitting for off-Broadway designers. Soon, someone introduced him to the garment industry, and before long he was assistant designer of sportswear at Ann Klein, one of NYC’s major design houses. He went on to get his \Masters of Fine Arts degree at Southern Methodist University, and continued his costume work at the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, alongside renowned Costume Designer Deborah Dryden, and Broadway’s revival of “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” with Susan Hilferty (of Broadway’s “Wicked”).
Drawn by its rich theater scene, the two men relocated to Chicago, where Spaulding worked on “Travesties”, “Miss Julie”, “Once in a Lifetime”, “The Triumph of Love” at Court Theatre, “Phantom of the Opera” at Drury Lane, and “Born in the RSA” at Northlight Theatre. Frustrated with low budget/high expectation producers, they relocated to Marshall MI, where he continued his love for theater bu joining Great Escape Stage Company.
Spaulding was preceded in death by his partner, David King, brother-in-law Dale Sample, and parents Ishmael and Marjorie (Campbell) Spaulding. He is survived by sister Jeannine Sample, nephew Kristopher Sample, and best friend Patrice Marquardt. Please consider a gift in his honor to: The Great Escape Stage Company, 110 E Michigan Ave, PO Box 621, Marshall MI 49068