When TDF’s Costume Collection has a bag sale, customers can dress like Broadway stars. Literally.
All year round, the Collection rents professional costumes at a reasonable price to non-profit theatres, colleges, high schools, and other arts programs across the country. However, even though its massive space at Kaufman Astoria Film Studios holds over 80,000 items, it still needs to make room for new clothes and accessories every year. (Pieces are regularly donated by Broadway shows, major regional theatres, and other outlets.) That’s why arts professionals are invited to participate in a semiannual bag sale, where they pay one price for an empty bag and then stuff it with as much as they can carry.
The latest sale was on Monday, and attendees could choose from over 3500 items ranging from a sparkly cocktail gown to a rubber lizard suit. For the designers and artists who participated, it was an opportunity to outfit their upcoming productions in professional style.
“We have shoestring budgets, so to be able to take advantage of something like this makes a huge amount of difference for what we can do,” said David Lang, who was looking for clothes for a series of historical reenactments at the Van Horne House in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Karen Foppiani, who was preparing for productions of Shrek and Oklahoma! at the Narrows Community Theater in Bay Ridge, was excited to experience a bag sale firsthand. “I’ve been hearing about it,” she said. “It’s kind of mythical. I’ve been getting tips and strategies. You sling something on your arm if you think you might like it, then you sort it out later.” (She filled her bag with so many costume pieces that this reporter helped her lug it to the street.)
The hope is that everyone will leave with their bags and their imaginations bursting. “There are some companies who choose their seasons based on what they get here,” said Joanne Haas, the Collection’s Associate Director. “Maybe now they can do Romeo and Juliet because they were able to get a few doublets.”
And sometimes, customers end up taking home clothes that were worn by Broadway stars. Take what happened to Micah McCain, who tweeted this message after getting home from the sale:
A little while later, McClure, who will soon be starring in the Broadway musical Honeymoon in Vegas, tweeted back: It’s kind of mind-blowing that McClure had such ready access to a photo of himself wearing that exact shirt. Clearly, this was destiny. McCain did the only logical thing and took a photo of himself in the costume.
Meanwhile, GiGi McBreen, who drove from Pennsylvania with her daughter to find pieces for several community theatre, high school, and middle school productions, ended up with a shirt that was worn by Aladdin star Adam Jacobs when he played Marius in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Miserables.
She confessed that that particular item may end up in a shadow box instead of in a show. But no matter what happens to them, the point is that these items are still being valued. They’re making it easier for artists and audiences to create and celebrate live theatre, which is exactly why the Costume Collection exists.
–Mark Blankenship is TDF’s online content editor