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Never a dull moment

October 15, 2011
By Cindy Votruba ( , Marshall Independent

Every year Marshall native Sharon (Deuel) Peterson likes to try something new.

That "something new" may be skydiving, planning trips for seniors, being Mrs. Santa Claus at events in Las Vegas, or working with molten glass.

Along with her varied interests, Peterson spent many years as a wardrobe dresser/seamstress for several of the Las Vegas shows, dressing everything from magicians to dancers to an airplane.

Peterson and her husband, Patrick Schoenberger, moved to Las Vegas, Nev. back in 1987. The couple needed to buy a car, rent a house and find jobs. Peterson said she asked at the stagehands union, Local 720, to see if she could find something. What she learned was that she had to live there a year before getting a permanent job.

Peterson got a job at Williams Costume in Las Vegas, learning about rhinestones, millinery and how to use a power sewing machine. A few months later, she got a call from the union to work at Bailey's Jubilee as it was short of seamstresses. Then she was offered a job to work the Follies at the Tropicana Hotel as a dresser.

As a wardrobe dresser, Peterson said the costumes were stacked in a certain order and the dancers had to be dressed layer by layer.

"And you're doing it in the dark," Peterson said.

The first night of a new show was "quite the experience," she said, as it's all new music and new costumes.

That led to a career as a seamstress and costumer, working various shows in the Las Vegas area. She worked with the "Lido De Paris" at the Stardust Hotel. Peterson was chosen to work with Bill Hargate, a Hollywood designer when the show "Enter the Night" was created in the early 1990s. Hargate designed the costumes for "Murphy Brown" and has won four Emmys for his work.

"He was wonderful, he taught us a lot," Peterson said about Hargate.

After four years with "Enter the Night" as a wardrobe mistress/seamstress, Peterson was asked to interview for the job as the head of wardrobe at the Sands Hotel. There, she was sole wardrobe for the shows "Glitz," "Bare Essence" and "Hot Stuff."

Vegas magician Steve Wyrick gave Peterson the chance to built her first whole show when he was at the Sahara. That's where she made her largest project, a black velvet "dress"?for a twin engine airplane that took 92 yards of fabric so Wyrick could make it disappear onstage, she said.

From 1989-1993, Peterson and her husband did costumes and props for the Las Vegas Civic Ballet. She also worked with the Rockettes in 1996.

Peterson's schedule with the shows would be from 6-10 p.m. or so, four hours a night. That left her time during the day to work on cooking and baking. She said backstage, she was the "official" cakemaker for weddings, birthdays and other occasions. She also catered theme weddings. One was a garden wedding in Wisconsin with live harp music in the gazebo and a string quartet in the garden.

During her time with the Vegas shows, Peterson has met a few celebrities. She remembers Telly Savalas playing 21 backstage with the workers, dancing in the green room with Hal Linden at a benefit in Las Vegas and sharing a table with Debbie Reynolds at a Golden Rainbow event at one of the casinos.

"She is such a sweet woman," Peterson said of Reynolds.

Peterson is also a field editor for Taste of Home magazine, something she's done for a decade. She said she invents her own recipes.

"That's what I do when I cook," Peterson said.

In 2010, she decided to do a cooking show "From Scratch" which includes noodles, mixes, bread and homemade mixes in a 2-1/2 hour demonstration. Channel 10, the local public television station has expressed interest in doing a show in the future.

Peterson works with the Senior Tripsters, a non-profit travel organization in the Las Vegas area, planning vacations for those age 55 and older.

"That was one of the things I learned," Peterson said about planning trips for the Senior Tripsters. "I think you get stale if you don't (stop learning)."

One of the ways she keeps "learning" is through the seven senior centers in Las Vegas.

"There's so much out here," she saids. "I find people who are doing something interesting."

Peterson started doing Mrs. Santa Claus Christmas three years ago. It's for all the women who work hard during the holidays, she said, where she does teas and parties and teaches home decor, bread baking, cookie decorating and other things. She's applied to ride in a float in the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

But she never stops learning things. Peterson has started doing scuba diving, so she can dive while on a trip to Hawaii.

"I liked it better than I thought I would," she said.

Next year, she's going to work with molten glass.

"We're going to be doing glass beads and figures," Peterson said.



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