Virgil Charles Johnson has been an active professional costume designer in regional theatre for the past 50 years. Recent successes included GYPSY and AMADEUS for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater directed by Gary Griffin. These were preceded by HENRY IV, parts 1 & 2, directed by Barbara Gaines, performed in Chicago and at the RSC, Stratford, England in 2006. Designs for the Steppenwolf Theater Company included THE MARCH adapted and directed by Frank Galati and THE CRUCIBLE directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Art Deco nostalgia was a theme with Asolo Repertory Theatre productions of FALLEN ANGELS, FANNY BRICE, and YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU. His designs have been seen at the Guthrie Theatre, Northlight Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Court Theater, Colorado Shakespeare, Body Politic, Victory Gardens Theater, and the Goodman Theatre where he designed costumes from 1969 to 1997. Goodman productions of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC directed by Michael Maggio and THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR directed by Frank Galati won the coveted Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Costume Design.
Mr. Johnson also received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Costume Design for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's production of HENRY IV, Parts 1 & 2 in 1999 and FOLLIES in 2012. In 2001, Mr. Johnson received the Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration.
In Chicago, his work has also been seen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, notably the 2010 production of MACBETH starring Thomas Hampson and Nadja Michael. And previously the production of THE VOYAGE OF EDGAR ALLEN POE, directed by Frank Galati, which premiered the Lyric's "Toward the Twenty First Century" initiative. He has designed several new works for Lyric's Artist in Residence Series. In 1993, he designed the American premiere of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's THE JEWEL BOX directed by Chas Rader-Scheiber for the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee.
Mr. Johnson has designed over 100 productions in both the classical and modern canon. He has designed for a full range of Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and history plays; Shaw, Chekhov and Wilde; O'Neill and Williams; and contemporary playwrights as diverse as Christopher Hampton and Sam Sheppard. He is an engaging collaborator who has developed designs with other designers such as John Conklin, David Mitchell, Paul Steinberg, John Lee Beatty, Pat Collins, Jennifer Tipton, Daniel Ostling, Todd Rosenthal, James Noone, Neil Patel and James Ingalls. He trained at Boston University (BFA) under Raymond Sovey and Horace Armistead, house designer for the Metropolitan Opera. His graduate degree is from Northwestern University.