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Just as intricate and artisanal as the sets built in the Koski Production Center, the costumes help bring the context and color of the parade of theatrical characters to life. And just like their scenic counterparts, the sewers and tailors have to produce specialty products in a relatively short amount of time and on a massive scale.
The costume shop is located on the second floor in the labyrinth bowels of the FSU Performing Arts Center. Sewing apparatus and work stations fill the bright and expansive room. In the back is a closet full of hundreds of yards of fabric and materials to be weaved into the next great stage statement.
“For a rep season, it’s all about timing,” says David M. Covach, costume shop manager at Asolo Repertory Theatre. “We’re mounting three to four shows simultaneously, and because they all open one right after another, we make sure we’re on constant rotation show to show.”
The costume shop has access to more than 100,000 individual pieces of clothing from pants, dresses, shirts, hats and gloves located in storage in the Koski Production Center. Each season the shop goes through about 500 yards of muslin, an inexpensive test fabric, used to make mockups of the final costume. Covach and his staff have to create a splendor of clothes for different time periods based on the settings of the plays and the vision of visiting costume designers and directors.
The setting of “The Matchmaker” is in the trappings of metropolitan Manhattan, N.Y., in the early 1900s. Virgil Johnson’s costume designs are living characters with their ornate details. According to Covach, Johnson and the show’s director, Peter Amster, first met to talk about the costumes in March 2014. By May, Covach and his staff had rough sketches of what the show was going to look like. And in June, Covach and Johnson shopped for the right fabrics.
In the months leading up to the opening of the show in early January, Covach and his team fit all the actors, made all of the costumes and added any details Johnson wanted after seeing the actors in the final products. And the shop accomplished all of this while simultaneously undergoing the same process for the Asolo’s other five shows that opened between November and March.