Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Costumer Gets a Leading Role in LaTraviata

"It's  wonderful to have the Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (HHOT) production of “La Traviata'” actually performing at Proctors’ GE Theater, says Kathe Sheehan, owner of The Costumer. Our costumes get shipped all over the world for productions, but it’s even more exciting when they're part of productions in our home town.”

 La Traviata opened on Thursday February 7, 2013 and will be in residence at Proctors until February 17, 2013.

“People don’t realize how much goes into fitting performers for their costumes, said Kathe; the costume has to look like it’s custom-made for the performer. This usually involves several fittings and alterations if it’s going to look right. We are the only costume shop in the area to have our own in-house designer and pattern maker, on staff."

Helen Porter runs the design, pattern making and alteration department. She is extremely talented and appears that she is cool under pressure.

What does it take to make the costumes look right?

"There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all,’ says Helen. First, I have to choose the right costume to create authenticity for the time period and then alter it so it fits the wearer. It has to look perfect."

For this performance, the costumes must depict contemporary Paris during the 1850s; the time period for La Traviata. The opera deals with an illicit love affair by a young man from the provinces with a provocative kept woman, and includes scenes showing the rich and powerful being involved with the demi-monde, the world of courtesans, gambling and extravagance. This was considered taboo and scandalous for the time.

The Costumer is shown in the Schenectady Gazette fitting costumes for soprano Rachel Schmiege, Robert Taylor who plays Giorgio, and chorus members Erin McMenemy and  Bill McColl. The Costumer is supplying all of the costumes for La Traviata.

"The Costumer has such a great stock that I was inspired by certain pieces they already had, like the feathered headpieces, and we were able to build the look from there, says Heidi Lauren Duke the Producer of La Traviata, the result was elegant and exciting, and they did everything they could to maximize our budget!" (The show is officially called Traviata MAX Live.)

The Costumer also got to be part of another local event lat week. The Empire State Youth Orchestra held a fund-raising event on February 9, 2013 at Crossgates Mall.   Sara Torrey, Development/Marketing Specialist, from the Empire Youth Orchestra stopped in and picked up a costume for the event. Hopefully, their event was a success.

We heard the ESYO also had a "musical petting zoo," where children could try out a variety of different instruments.   During the afternoon, there were six auctions to win the conductor's baton and lead the orchestras in familiar tunes such as Stars and Stripes Forever and Semper Fidelis.

The Costumer with two locations has been a major force in the costume industry since 1917, being involved in everything from Vaudeville to films.

 In 1974, Jack and Kathe Sheehan both former high school theater teachers, bought the business. After spending years directing scores of shows and being faced with all the challenges of productions, they realized that they could fill a very important part in the market place—they decided to become “Costumers.” If you’ve ever been to the shop, you would know they’re the right people for the job. For more information visit their web site, or drop in one of their two locations 1995 Central Avenue, Albany, and 1020 -1030 Barrett Street, Schenectady, New York.

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