“Clothes Make a Statement, Costumes Tell a Story”
At the Renaissance Theatre, we take great pride in the beautiful costuming being presented onstage each show. But where do these costumes come from and who’s behind the magic of creation?
Many costumes at the Renaissance Theatre are made by our very own staff! For example, the fabulous Ursula costume featured in last year’s production of “The Little Mermaid” was made by our Teaching Artist and Education Assistant at the Renaissance, Dauphne Maloney.
The Ursula costume for our summer 2017 musical, The Little Mermaid.
“It was the first costume I started for the show, and the last one finished (this one involved a lot of hand-sewing…in this case, we had certain parts of the costume that had to be “undone” and then “re-done” each performance). Challenges included: trying to find the combination of fabrics I wanted to use; creating and stuffing “tentacles” that could be comfortably and practically used on stage (and make successful entrances and exits through our trap door on stage); and allowing LOTS of time to change anything that wasn’t working.”
The magic and history behind the Renaissance Theatre’s Costume Closet is truly remarkable. A great costume is able to transform a person into an entirely different character and to make the audience believe it’s real. Our goal is to create wonder onstage and to transport audiences into a different time period, country, or even world, stitch by stitch through the power of costumes.
Most Costumes Ever Made for One Show……. 527!
Not costume pieces…. but entire costumes! Made for a joint production of the musical, George M!, between the Renaissance and OSU Mansfield in February of 2000. “An example of what one average costume may have included would be: (Men) pants, shirt, tie, vest, jacket, hat; (Women) skirt, blouse, jacket, hat. Each person in the ensemble/chorus had a minimum of 11 costume changes during the course of the show. This was also the production which had the shortest/quickest costume change I’ve been involved with–7.2 seconds during which time we changed three people (and yes, some curious person timed the change backstage).”
Most Interesting/Challenging Costume to Create
“The show was Singin’ in the Rain, and it was going to “rain” on stage (actual water) during the shows title song at the end of Act One. Besides making a “pit cover” for the orchestra pit so that none of the instruments used by our live orchestra would get wet, the suit worn by the Don Lockwood character (played by Gene Kelly in the film) got soaking wet every night. I would meet the actor playing Don backstage each night at intermission, he would take off the soaking-wet suit, I would hand it to a volunteer who would take it to the dry cleaner (that night), and the dry cleaner would clean it overnight, and have it ready by the next night’s show.”
From Police Officer to Disco Dancer
“During the winter of 2017, the Renaissance produced Sister Act. The character who serves as a love interest for the lead female is Lt. Eddie Souther, a cop and former high school classmate of hers. During the song “I Could Be That Guy,” Eddie changes from a police uniform, to a disco-type costume (reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever), and back into a police uniform…all while singing and dancing ONSTAGE, with lights up, in front of the audience. It was one of the costumes that I made paper doll-size versions of; stared a lot at all the components of; and swore that I would only actually construct it once. I would wake up in the middle of the night, positive I had it figured out and, by morning, I’d be positive I was mistaken. Fortunately, I did only have to construct it once.”
Inanimate object costumes for Beauty and the Beast
“The Mrs. Potts costume, in particular, was a lot of fun to imagine, brainstorm, and create. It was also the first costume I started, and I was still hand-sewing flowers and vines onto the teapot up until about a half hour before the first performance began (one of my biggest challenges is one I put on myself–I like to add trim until it looks the way I want it to look…even if it means I’m sewing till the last minute).”