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Costumes at the Warner

Costumes at the Warner

This Saturday ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties will roam the streets seeking treats. Many of these fearsome little creatures will be accompanied by parents or older siblings, often dressed in costumes as well.

One of the best places for would-be trick-or-treaters to look for inspiration for this special night of fun and fright is also the largest costume shop in Connecticut, conveniently located in Torrington as part of the Warner Stage Company. The Warner Theatre Costume Shop, which occupies a full 8,000-square-feet, is located at 84 Main Street, and is open by appointment under the direction of designer Renee Purdy.

“We have a huge collection of men’s and ladies formal wear and ladies cocktail wear - and we claim the best collection of men’s suits: wacky men’s suits, tuxedos and suits that can be stylized to different periods,” said Purdy.

She said the costume shop does not stock the usual blood-and-gore costumes favored by younger trick-or-treaters, nor does it have a large selection of Disney-inspired characters, although it does have costumes from the productions of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Phantom.

“Unless it was designed for a theater piece it’s highly unlikely you will find it,” said Purdy. “And we are very selective about who we rent to. One woman wanted to rent Glinda the Good Witch to attend a cocktail party and I said, ‘Noooo.’ She couldn’t understand it, but what do you have at a cocktail party - people drinking and greasy hors d’oeuvres. And the Glinda costume is a main part of a whole show.”

But, if you want to be a Munchkin, or a scarecrow, Purdy stands ready to make your dream come true. “We can make you into a Munchkin or a scarecrow. You have to come in with some idea but then we can work with you to find a piece that will make it happen. We have fun.”

“We really try not to do alterations,” she continued. “Halloween always comes right in the middle of production season and our shows are massive. We don’t have the manpower to do alterations. We will offer the service, but only with ample notice.”

Purdy said that the Costume Store’s real purpose in life is providing costumes for shows that range from Broadway productions to area high school shows. “We rent to professional theaters - everything from Broadway and off-Broadway to local school groups,” Purdy said. “We rent to community theaters and to individuals, but we do not have a retail shop.”

She said she enjoys working with schools. “A lot of schools have absolutely nothing, so we work to show them how to put a look together. I like that type of work."

She said the shows for which she provides costumes can demand hundreds of costumes changes for the casts. Ragtime has a cast of 67 people and they all have five or six costume changes,” she said. Nice Work If You Can It calls for 200 to250 costumes. It can be just crazy.”

She added that, for obvious reasons, she does not rent shoes or wigs, although the shop will provide professional theater groups with wigs.

All of the proceeds realized from the Costume Shop go back to the Warner to support productions.

To contact Purdy, 860-489-7180 or e-mail rpurdy@warnertheatre.org.

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