Every Friday, one of the classrooms in South Queens Middle School (formerly the Junior High) bustles with the sounds of the Winds of Change’s costume team for their November production of Les Misérables.
© Submitted photo
: Costumes for the Winds of Change’s production of Les Miserables are keeping many seamstresses in Queens busy.
The team may be sewing dresses, making hats, hemming gowns or making a costume look old and dirty in order to fit the era of the show.
Sue Beaumont-Rudderham, who has been involved with costumes with Nova Scotia’s second oldest amateur theatre group in the province for almost ten years, is coordinating the team of seven talented women.
“We have a fabulous group, some with extensive experience with the Winds of Change, like Sue Higgins. Others are new to theatre costuming, like Lyn Oakley and Karen Miller, but they bring great skills and new ideas. Linda Rafuse has made period costumes before but this is her first WOC production.” Says Beaumont-Rudderham.
“We’re very fortunate to have Gail Hamlin working with us. She’s been our historical consultant and is so well known for her period costume work.”
Each member of the team is working on specific aspects of the costumes, whether it is jacket tailoring, ladies gowns or brocading buttons and everyone takes ‘homework’ away with them from their Friday session. Beaumont-Rudderham and Hamlin are responsible for attending rehearsals to watch for difficult costume changes and to do fittings.
“We’ve been keeping track of a few statistics, over the last few months, to share with the rest of the crew and cast,” Beaumont-Rudderham said.
“So far, we’ve used almost 25 metres of fabric for gowns, approximately 15 metres of black wool for jackets in the wedding scene, we’ve made 24 vests with at least four buttons each and one with 30! Each of the pieces has to look historically accurate. In fact, you’ll see deer horn buttons on stage made by Lyn. We’ve used dozens of white bed sheets and tablecloths for shirts and chemises and miles of thread. Gail’s inventory of costumes and her willingness to allow us to use them has been incredible and we’ve been so pleased with the response of the community whenever we’ve put out a request.”
Soon the team will be working on distressing some of the costumes to make them look old or suitable for the poor people of that time. “We will be using a mixture of techniques to get the effects we’re looking for including plain old dirt, ashes, chalk and making tears in the appropriate spots,” explained Higgins. “For the costumes that need a very specific look, or need to be returned to their original condition, we’ll be using a product from the theatre industry called Schmere, made for exactly this purpose.”
“This has been the most challenging and exciting production to date. The challenges have been incredible but we’ve come up with some very cool ways to deal with them. More importantly, it has been such great fun coming together as the costume team, working in ‘The Room’ (which we’re so thankful to the school administration for providing) and learning so much from each other.
For more information on the production, visit www.lesmisliverpool.com or the show’s Facebook page Les Misérables Liverpool.
The Winds of Change is the second oldest amateur theatre group in Nova Scotia bringing evocative, fun and edgy theatre to audiences since 1974. Les Misérables will be performed November 14 -17 and 21 – 24, 7:30 pm each evening. Ticket can be purchased at www.astortheatre.ns.ca , at the Astor’s box office, or by calling 902-354-5250.