You may be more familiar with Missy Johnston than you realize.
If you have attended a play at Transylvania University in the past five or so years, you probably have seen a costume she designed in the production. She is the university's costume designer and shop supervisor; she is also a part-time instructor there, teaching Introduction to Theater and a costuming class.
Missy has also designed costumes for the Lexington Children's Theatre, Studio Players, the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, Woodford Theatre and the Shakespeare Festival.
You may have seen her performing in a stage production with Actors' Guild. You may have heard her voice in a radio ad; she has done many voiceovers during her career.
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You may have watched her with your kids as she hosted the Emmy Award-winning, fast-recall current events show "News Quiz" on KET. And you may have sung along with her as she performed with the popular local band, The Bats.
"I'm just trying to make a buck," she said with a laugh.
Johnston started The Bats because she got tired of sitting home alone at night while her husband, Jim Gleason, also a musician, was out playing gigs.
"I just thought I would start a band," she said. Deciding on a niche for the band was the hard part.
"I thought 'I'm 40-something. I can't do a rock 'n' roll band; that would be stupid. Who would come to see that?' Then I thought maybe it would be cool to have mostly women in the band."
The Bats mix all kinds of music with comedy and audience-participation interludes.
"It just sort of morphed over time into what it is now," Missy said.
Acting is another passion of Missy's, something she has been interested in since high school.
She was a theater major at Converse College in Spartanburg, N.C., and went to graduate school at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She got into costume design while attending Trinity.
"When I was in graduate school, I was on my first costuming crew," she said. "Somebody handed me a man's contemporary jacket (and a picture) and said, 'Here, make this look like this picture.' I just kind of went 'OK' — and I did it. I was hooked after that."
Missy moved to Lexington when her ex-husband took a job at UK, and soon after she got involved in local theater.
"I did some design work early on for the Lexington Children's Theatre — some scenery and some costumes," she said.
She estimates she has worked on nearly 100 shows.
"At Transy, one of my favorite productions was Rough Magic, which was a ton of fun," she said. "We did an anime-style treatment of that. We did some crazy wigs, which I found online because I couldn't find them locally."
Missy thrives on the costume shop environment.
"The people are crazy and the work is nuts, but you really have to pull together and have a common vision," she said. "And there's usually food around. It's fun."
As much as she loves building costumes and dressing up actors, she doesn't particularly care to dress up in costumes herself.
"I feel like I'm at work," she said. "I enjoy dressing up other people; that brings me great joy. But doing it to myself is not as much fun."