Many of the most well-known plays reproduced in community theaters across the country are period pieces. For example, Our Town by Wilder and The Heiress by Goetz both take place in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Both have characters who wear jewelry pieces of that era, including wedding rings and brooches. As a costume designer and wardrobe manager, you should be looking at antique jewelry pieces from retailers like Morgan Sonsthagen Jewelry Design for accuracy. Here is why.
Sticklers for Accuracy Will Pick Apart Your Costume Choices
There is always a newspaper critic at every play, regardless of where the performance is and who is in it. If you have a critic who loves history and period pieces, he or she will pick apart every last detail of your show, not just the actors' performances. The last thing you want is a scathing review of your costume selection when all you did was pair an eighteenth century costume with a nineteenth century choker. Uninformed audiences may not know the difference, but not everyone in your audience is uninformed. Dress your actors as though everyone knows what century and decade the play is from, right down to the antique jewelry.
The Play or Musical Focuses on a Specific Piece of Jewelry
The Diamond Necklace, a story originally by Guy De Maupassant, was adapted for theater and introduced as a musical. If you have the opportunity to be the costume manager for this show, you have to find a French-influenced vintage necklace that is particularly extravagant and sparkles like a thousand diamonds. This piece of vintage jewelry is the focus of the entire show, and without it, you have no show. Many other theatrical shows draw attention to the jewelry characters are wearing, and lines that the actors have require that you find period jewelry to fit.
Theater Is a Very Visual...Fund Raiser?
People who come to the theater want to see something incredible, be entertained, and sometimes, buy what they see on stage. Believe it or not, some theaters sell off pieces of costumes or the set as a means to support their performances, and the more unique and historic items for sale the more money they fetch when the show ends. Collectors of famous plays like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest buy the love beads and the leather jacket worn by the main character. Others will buy any memorabilia that is actually from the decade in which the play takes place.