Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nuns, Nazis and Lederhosen

Posted by Bruce Miller
This Friday, May 28, we'll be presenting a FUN and FREE event in the lobby at Barksdale Theatre Willow Lawn. We hope you and your friends will come.

The program is entitled Nuns, Nazis and Lederhosen, and it's part of our community connections series. Sue Griffin, our smart and fascinating Director of Costumes, will take the audience on a tour of our extensive costume collection, and none of you will even have to leave your seat.

Sue and her staff have pulled a selection of costumes related to the time and place of our current hit musical, The Sound of Music. In her inimitable and informative style, Sue will dazzle you as she describes each garment, how and why it was made the way it was, and where each particular costume originated.

She's led similar programs for us in the past, and they're always just as fun as they are fascinating.

Here's the blurb:

Nuns, Nazis and Lederhosen - WWII Era Costumes from the Barksdale / Theatre IV Collection

Director of Costumes Sue Griffin has scoured our costume closet for liturgical, WWII era, and Bavarian gowns and garments from productions past. Once again, her guided tour through fashion history will set the stage for the feel and forms of our great spring and summer musical, The Sound of Music.

That blurb was written a year ago. In our conversation of a few days ago, Sue said that the bulk of what she will be bringing to this costume closet "show and tell" will be men's and women's fashions from the 30s and 40s, from both the U. S. and the Continent. Many of the garments will be authentic originals.

And I'm betting a nun and a Nazi will show up in there somewhere. Maybe even some authentic Austrian lederhosen.

Sue Griffin has been interested in costume design since her childhood. She was born in Norwalk CT during WWII. "When I was in second grade my family took a trip to Williamsburg," she recalls. "I saw those ladies walking around in long skirts and I was fascinated. From that time on, I was interested in historic clothing."

Sue learned how to sew at about that same age and would go to the library and check out books on historical costumes, some of which she still refers to today. Clothing, especially historical clothing, fascinated her. "Part of it was the fact you could sit down at a sewing machine and make those things," she says.

Although she sewed costumes for high school and college theatre productions, Sue wasn't aware that you could do it professionally--at least not at first. She earned a B. A. in Art History from Connecticut College in 1963. After college, while working as a buyer for Miller & Rhoads in Norfolk, she became involved in community theatre, then began working with the now defunct Norfolk Theater Center.

In 1980, she moved to Richmond and a new job as head of costumes for TheatreVirginia. She worked there for 22 years as Costume Director. When TheatreVirginia closed in the final days of 2002, she worked briefly for the Richmond Ballet, and then found her new home at Theatre IV / Barksdale in 2003.

Nuns, Nazis and Lederhosen is free-of-charge and open to everyone. No RSVP or tickets are required. The program will begin at 11 a.m. in the lobby of Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn.

Sue's presentation will be followed by a lunch buffet of sliced turkey, ham, roast beef, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, breads, salads, sweets, coffee, tea and sodas. A free-will offering of $5 for lunch is suggested for those who are able. About half of the people who will attend the program will stay for the lunch fellowship time.

I hope you'll join us this Friday morning. And I hope I'll see you at the theatre later on for a show. Now running: The Sound of Music at the historic Empire, and Crowns at the Gottwald Playhouse at CenterStage for the rest of this week. Thereafter, Crowns will transfer to Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn where it will play throughout the month of June.

--Bruce Miller

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