Goodspeed hosts annual tag sale

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
East Haddam, Chester - posted Tue., Feb. 18, 2014
Njaye Olds is curator of the Goodspeed costume collection and displayed a dress from ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ that inspired the line, ‘Yes, you look like the Chrysler building’ [in that dress].
Njaye Olds is curator of the Goodspeed costume collection and displayed a dress from ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ that inspired the line, ‘Yes, you look like the Chrysler building’ [in that dress].

A well-known tag sale among theatre supporters was held Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. People were lined up at the door a half hour before the sale opened at 10 a.m., despite deep snow that fell the night before.

The Goodspeed Musicals costume, prop, fabric, and electronics sale takes place every winter. Sunday was also the town of Chester’s annual Winter Carnivale, featuring a parade, a chili cook-off and an ice sculpture display, so people were milling around downtown with bolts of fabric, hats and costume pieces as they walked among shops and restaurants.

The costume collection, currently housed at a former needle factory, will move back across the river to East Haddam this fall. It will be housed at Hood Lane in more spacious former industrial quarters nearer the famous Goodspeed Opera House.  

Curator Njaye Olds has been with the Goodspeed for five years. Olds said there are more than 300,000 costumes in the Goodspeed Costumes Collection and Rentals Division. Its purpose is to maintain and acquire classic costumes and props to preserve the authentic American musical theatrical and film genre.

The staff of the curator and her four assistants, as well as the long-time wardrobe master, John Riccucci, have a great time fulfilling their mission with hundreds of thousands of costumes and even more pieces and props to repair, clean, maintain and archive.

"We just sent out 500 [rental] costumes out to Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts yesterday," said Olds. They even have old-fashioned wardrobe carriers that resemble those used for centuries. She also showed off a recent acquisition, a 1905 Paris-designed capelette of black lace. It is not for sale.

The tag sale recycles duplicate props and generic costume components that are not historically tied to any Broadway or Goodspeed production. There are just so many sombreros or summer straw hats any theatre can use. A few dozen were on the table for sale.

There were also window treatments, as well as fabrics used to create rooms or other space needed for a show. Norma Savarino, her husband, and a friend come every year to pick over items Savarino uses for her theatre students. "This is my tag sale," she said.

Ellen Ranger, of Vermont, and Sally Eckersley, of Cromwell, read about the sale and decided to attend. The ladies bought bolts of fabric, tagged for $5 to $10 each. Prefabricated window treatments and valances sold for $2 each, complete with wooden frameworks.

There were hats, men's suits, jackets, women's skirts and blouses, all in vibrant, vivid colors and patterns that show up well on stage.

Wooden chests, desks, electronic pianos and sound systems were all for sale, as well as Goodspeed logos on T-shirts, golf shirts, and sweat shirts.

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