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Costumes at the Regent program dressed for success

Pat Sztuke and Marta Smith showing off a couple of the more than 1,000 costumes in the Costumes at The Regent collection.

Another treasure at Picton’s Regent Theatre is its extraordinary collection of costumes –  more than 1,000 of them – gathered over many years from theatre productions and donations from theatrical groups and County families.

Marta Smith, of the Costumes at the Regent Committee, says the costumes range from 1850s style dresses made-for-the-stage by professional dressmakers to 1960s Jackie Kennedy suits and pill box hats, to contemporary wedding gowns plus everything in between.

“We have collections from productions such as the Pirates of Penzance and the Mikado and we even have what we think is a straight-jacket, should someone need one,” she says.

The collection is housed in the attic at the front of the theatre building. In 2008 the founding members of the committee, Anne Sheasby and Flo Cooper and others began clearing out the attic, sorting and organizing costumes into categories, dividing everything first into women’s and men’s wear, then into time periods. Hats, shoes, gloves, accessories and some props were also sorted.  They made the garment racks from pipes found in the attic, and used what was on hand or donated to build a ‘home’ for the costumes.

About a year ago, Lita Field and Marta Smith joined, followed by Pat Sztuke, Carol Rutledge, Maria Hughes and Gwen Wannamaker as current members of the committee.

“We are creating a complete computer-based inventory,” Smith says. “For theatre groups planning a production, this will allow a more focused initial search of our stock without having to be on site. And it will enable us to co-operate with other local groups, such as the Mummers to help a production director/costumer find the outfits needed within the County.  A physical identification tagging of each item will facilitate the rental process, which we are instigating to help cover cleaning and repair costs of the garments.”

Building the collection through donations from the public, or other theatre organizations with surpluses in particular types of clothing, or the purchase of used costumes from professional companies are long term goals of the ‘Costumes at the Regent’ collection.

For more information about costume rentals and donations, contact Lynne Ross  at admin@theregenttheatre.org, 613-476-8416 – ext.26

The Regent continues its membership campaign this month.  Visit www.TheRegentTheatre.org for details. Membership starts at $50 a year. You may also drop into the Box Office at 224 Main St., Picton or call 613 476 8416 ext 28 to show support for the theatre. (As a charitable organization, up to 90 per cent of your membership qualifies as a donation for tax purposes)

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