Volunteer Gwen Fulsang, a Lawrenceville resident, works in the costume shop the Aurora Theatre has set up inside the Peach State Federal Credit Union building. Staff and volunteers are creating all the costumes for the upcoming production of “Mary Poppins,” which opens Thursday, July 17. (Staff Photo: Deanna Allen)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Office space inside the Peach State Federal Credit Union building on Lakes Parkway in Lawrenceville has been filled with sewing kits, fabrics, ribbons, needles and thread, scissors, all the things needed to make costumes.
With four separate rooms and a wide hallway, the Aurora Theatre has turned the space into a costume shop for its upcoming production of “Mary Poppins,” which opens Thursday.
“This is not normal setup for us,” said Justin Anderson, the production’s director. “We don’t have an actual costume shop facility, so this is a brand new thing that we created for this show.”
When the Aurora Theatre’s staff decided to produce “Mary Poppins” for their season opener, there was no intention of having a costume shop, a dedicated costume designer or stitchers.
“When we first decided on ‘Mary Poppins’ we entertained the idea of renting a package from another production,” Anderson said. “Several theaters had done the show previously and had created their own stock (costumes) and we knew just because of the size and scope of the show that it might be worthwhile to do that.”
When Anderson contacted other theater companies about renting their costumers, the packages were booked more than a year out to other theaters producing the show.
“Literally, thirty-plus professional theaters across the country are doing this show,” Anderson said.
So the Aurora contacted costume designer and Atlanta resident Sydney Roberts, who has produced costumes for Georgia Shakespeare and the Alliance Theatre. With a staff of stitchers, along with volunteers, Roberts has created an estimated one hundred full costumes and several hundred costume accessories all based on period style and cut.
“Everything is very detailed,” Roberts said. “You can’t send George Banks to work without an overcoat, a hat, gloves, an umbrella, a briefcase, a scarf, a pocket watch. You just can’t send him to work without all that stuff.”
Most of the costumes have been custom made, while a few things here and there have been purchased.
“There’s going to be this level of hand-crafted quality that’s going to be apparent from the moment a body steps on stage,” Anderson said.
While it’s not a traditional costume shop, the office space has served its purpose.
“Just seeing the evidence of what’s been created I feel like they’ve made a great use of it,” Anderson said. “The stars aligned to get all these resources together to provide the space and infrastructure and the manpower to get all this done.”