James M. 'Jamie' Scott, a costumer designer whose work was featured in both the theater and opera

James M. “Jamie” Scott, a Catonsville native and noted costume designer whose work was featured on the stage and in operas, died Sept. 20 of liver cancer at Bebee Medical Center in Lewes, Del. He was 56.

The son of Thomas M. Scott III, a Union Trust Co. executive vice president, and Anne N. Scott, a Baltimore County public schools educator, James Matheson Scott was born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville.

While a student at Catonsville High School, Mr. Scott performed in a number of plays.

“Jamie was extremely talented, very bright, and such a star. I remember seeing him in a production of ‘Anything Goes’ in the mid-1970s,” said Margaret Bowler, a retired educator and Catonsville resident. “At one point he learned to sew, and worked on costumes. He was a multi-talented person.”

Kathleen Morales, an institutional designer for a bank, was a Catonsville High classmate.

“Jamie loved the theater and was extraordinarily intelligent and very intellectual,” said Ms. Morales who lives in Westminster.

“We were also in a dance club — kind of what ‘Glee’ is like today — called The Catonsville Singers, and we put on shows throughout the county,” Ms. Morales said.

After graduating from Catonsville in 1979, Mr. Scott enrolled at Brown University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theater in 1983. He obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater with an emphasis on costume in 1986 from New York University.

Mr. Scott began designing his first costumes during his student days at Brown for such main stage productions as “The Hanged Man,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Lion in Winter,” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“While at NYU, his professors commented on James’ outstanding talent in drawing, costume design and a rare talent to be able to ‘read fabrics’ that will look best in different lights,” wrote his father, who lives in Baltimore, in a biographical sketch of his son’s life.

“When you design costumes you have to be able to draw pictures and I remember how Jamie’s pictures were just amazing,” said Mike Bowler, of Catonsville, a retired Baltimore Sun reporter, and longtime friend.

After graduating from NYU, he began his professional career as a costume designer with the Cubiculo Theatre in New York for its1986 production of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which was followed that year by “Landscape of the Body.”

He had done costume design work in New York for the Raft Theatre, Riverwest Theatre, Capitol Rep, Perry Street Theatre, LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Acting Company and the Public Theater.

In 1989 and 1990, Mr. Scott’s work was featured in Vineyard Theater productions and during the 1990 season for the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, which was followed by the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Philadelphia Drama Guild.

In addition to the theater, Mr. Scott was drawn to designing for the opera because of the lavish designs and budgets, family members said.

His costume designs for “Turandot” that was produced by the Opera at Florham in New Jersey, led to additional design work led for the Wolf Trap Opera Co. and the Minnesota Opera productions of “Norma” and “Tosca’ in the early 1990s.

Mr. Scott designed costumes for the American ballet Theatre and for “Sleeping Beauty” that was produced by the New York City Ballet in 1991.

One of Mr. Scott’s most notable design efforts was for the “Barber of Seville,” which was directed by Placido Domingo, who was artistic director and general director of the Washington Opera Co. from 1996 to 2011 at the Kennedy Center.

“We went over to Washington to see the opera and Jamie had arranged for us to have dinner with Placido Domingo,” his father said. “It was memorable.”

Mr. Scott’s work was also found at Julliard Opera Center Productions at Lincoln Center and for six summer musicals that were directed by Robert Redford for the Sundance Summer Theatre.

In a 2000 production of “Cenerentola” by the Julliard Opera Center, a New York Times reviewer wrote of Mr. Scott’s costume designs that they “shine with strong colors. The modest circumstances give the opera and its cast a decent chance for success.”

In a departure from his work for the theater, opera and ballet, Mr. Scott was contacted by John F. Kennedy Jr., a Brown classmate who had performed in various college productions, to design and make a zoot suit which he wore to his 30th birthday party.

“It proved to be the hit of the party and Jackie came up to Jamie and told him how much she loved it,” his father said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Scott was an avid amateur figure skater and observed that many top skaters were wearing costumes that did not add to their appearance or enhance the appropriate music with which they performed their routines.

After looking at a skating magazine that featured top world class skaters, he made sketches and mailed them to them.

Tomas Verner, a Czech Republic skater and European champion, contacted Mr. Scott, who designed the costumes he wore at the 2007 World Championships in Japan. His costumes were also worn by the skater at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia.

Mr. Scott, who was self-employed, had not retired at his death.

Mr. Scott was an avid world traveler and a fan of ocean liners. He also enjoyed gemstone polishing, numismatics, classic Hollywood films and crossword puzzles.

Services are private.

In addition to his father, he is survived by a sister, Sallie G. Scott of Annapolis.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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