With a cast of nearly 50 and several wardrobe changes, what’s a small costume shop to do to get ready for Sister Act, the biggest musical of the year?
Get busy sewing! And organizing.
Senior Costume Shop Foreman Kyrsten Lilly has a lot of costume pieces for cast members to keep track of, including two dozen or so nuns whose looks change several times throughout the show.
“All of the nuns have traditional habits and all of them will have glamour looks that go over the top of those. In one scene, they all change into pajamas,” said Kyrsten. “It’s a lot to keep track of.”
Luckily, she’s up for the challenge after learning to sew as a child, next to her mom. Her sewing skills were enhanced in the fall semester when Theatre Director Stephen Svoboda brought guest costume designer and seamstress Nikki Delhomme to campus to work with students on Little Women.
“Last semester, Nikki taught us a lot of skills that we wouldn’t have known before,” said Kyrsten, who is comfortable both using a sewing machine and hand stitching. She has worked with patterns and is at ease with cross-stitches and hemming. “Being able to hand sew,” she said, “helps with the more detailed alterations such as sequins.”
Kyrsten is assisted in the Costume Shop by three students – Madison Skinner, Mark Soski and Veronica Ruggeri – who have been putting in extra hours, making alterations and getting organized for all of the costume changes in the show. Dr. Amy Berger is assisting with some of the more major alterations. With a few quick whip stitches, they are sewing labels into every costume piece to help keep track of who wears what and when.
“In the fantasy sequence, the guys wear white pants and sequined shirts, but have to make a quick change into gangster clothing. It mainly just takes a lot of awareness and practice staying organized,” she said.
A veteran of the Gundlach stage, appearing in eight productions, Kyrsten is finding new enjoyment from her costuming challenges. “It’s extremely rewarding to see everything come together in the end,” she said.
When the curtain rises, she’ll have to trust all of her planning, organizing and costuming as she also will take the stage, playing the role of Sister Mary Theresa, the oldest of the nuns with a deceptively spry personality.
“On stage, I’ll be able to focus on that instant instead of worrying about costumes,” she said.
Show dates for Sister Act are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Students can attend free on Thursday night. Visit gundlachtheatre.org or reserve your tickets.