Crafting Magic: Rien Schlecht’s 20 Seasons at Weathervane Theatre

Since she arrived at the Weathervane in 2005, Rien Schlecht, an acclaimed designer, has left an indelible mark on the North Country's live theatre scene.

WHITEFIELD, NH—It’s spring 2005, and Rien Schlecht has just graduated college with criminal profiling and costume design degrees. The next step was nursing/med school, but what should she do with her summer? That was when her costume design professor recommended she look for a job at a summer stock theatre company. The rest is history, and 2024 marks Rien’s 20th season with Whitefield’s Weathervane Theatre.


“Should I admit this? I lied through my teeth during the whole interview,” said Schlecht. “I knew what sewing was and some of the terminology, and I guess I said the right answers because I got the job!” 


The job Schlecht refers to is as a stitcher in Weathervane’s costume shop. A stitcher works in the costume department, assisting with fitting, altering, and tailoring costume pieces. Her sewing skills grew exponentially, and Rien moved from a stitcher to Weathervane’s Resident Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager. 


In addition to her duties in the costume department, Rien has worn many other hats over her time at the Weathervane—company manager, stage manager, scenic designer, and operations manager. You may have seen her as Chris on stage in last year’s Primary. She has contributed her creativity to 150 Weathervane Mainstage productions. She names Sweeney Todd, Bright Star, A Man of No Importance, and Eurydice her favorite designs.


Her unique perspective and use of unconventional materials continue to amaze Weathervane patrons and its co-founder, Gibbs Murray.


“Rien is always looking for a challenge in costume and scenic design—usually for the same show simultaneously,” said Murray. “Her designs are consistently original, such as converting eighty-eight cent flip flops into fish fins for The Little Mermaid or using chili pepper light covers to create Audrey Two’s festooned garland of teeth in Little Shop of Horrors. Novelty is a small part of her artistry and always unsurprising brilliance.”


Winner of multiple New Hampshire Theatre Alliance Awards in costume and set design, Rien’s career has led her to a Drama Desk nomination (The Mysteries at the Flea) and notable projects such as the Drama Desk-nominated production of Baby, several seasons with Theatre For A New Audience, Radio City, and Mark Morris Ballet, and the stage and film productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Julie Taymor. 


A season at the Weathervane is not for the faint of heart. As one of the few alternating repertory theatres left in the country, Weathervane productions have significantly less time to mount with a much smaller budget. Also, its rural location gives it limited access to many resources other theatres have at their fingertips. One example was last season when Rien drove six hours to New York City to acquire fabrics needed for the famous finale jumpsuits for Mamma Mia


What one might see as an obstacle Rien embraces as a challenge she can overcome. It’s part of what brings her back year after year.


“It was always a great escape from New York City,” said Schlecht. “Even though it is an incredible amount of work, Weathervane keeps me inspired. I often remember WHY I love doing theatre because of The Weathervane. The thing I love most is watching young artists realize their potential and lock into where their talents lie with confidence. Here, I get to work with so many young people just starting, and being around that sort of starry-eyed, hopeful eagerness keeps this old lady young and grateful for the life she’s got.”


Weathervane’s 59th season runs June 13 – October 13, 2024. Of the ten Mainstage productions, Rien will design costumes and sets for six productions—Beautiful, Skeleton Crew, The Story Goes On, Romeo & Juliet, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and Cabaret. Rien will also design costumes for The Full Monty. Tickets for these productions, as well as The Wedding Singer, Clue, and What the Constitution Means to Me, are on sale online at or by phone at 603-837-9322. Season 59 tickets start at $24.


The Weathervane Theatre was founded in 1965 by Gibbs Murray and the late Tom Haas and is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ethan Paulini. It has presented high-quality professional productions of plays and musicals for over half a century. One of the few remaining alternating rep companies in the United States, the Weathervane is recognized as a historical institution nationwide, boasting among its alums 2021 Tony nominee Elizabeth Stanley, Tally Sessions, four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn, and recent Tony Award Winner Ari’el Stachel.  

Find Weathervane on Facebook and all other social media platforms @weathervanenh. Find Patchwork on Facebook

Media Contact: Carrie Greenberg
[email protected]