From high school productions to the theaters of New York, Broadway costumes add authenticity and professionalism to any performance. Whether you choose Pirates of Penzance or Phantom of the Opera, there is a wealth of theatrical costumes to choose from.
Finding Broadway Costumes
Definition - Costume Plots
Most costume shops refer to "costume plots" or "show plots" for Broadway shows. A costume plot is a list of the characters in a show with their costume needs. For instance, a costume plot for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat states that Potiphar's costume requires a "leopard skin Egyptian loin drape, elaborate collar, head drape with trim, full cape with trim, and under tunic." Even if you don't purchase or rent a costume from an online company, costume plots and accompanying pictures can be a great starting point for planning your production's costuming needs.
DC Theatricks specializes in creating men's period suits and military uniforms, while also offering mascot costumes and costume rentals for theater productions. Based in Buffalo, New York, DC Theatricks ships costumes around the world. Discounted show rates are available, with lower weekly rates for larger orders. Broadway costumes for nearly 40 shows are available online; call the company for the costume plots to additional shows. Pictures are available for Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, and The King and I.
Broadway Costumes, Inc.
Broadway Costumes, Inc. has been providing costume rentals since 1886. Those in the Chicago area can stop by the store, but the company's rental service is available to all online visitors. However, they will not ship internationally. Photographs are available from many popular shows, including Brigadoon, Hello Dolly, and Peter Pan. A separate sales catalog offers makeup and accessories.
Costume Holiday House
Costume Holiday House offers a stock of 33,000 costumes from dozens of shows, with pictures posted online for at least 100 titles. They also have a limited number of costumes for junior productions, including Annie and Into the Woods. Costume Holiday House ships to all 50 states but will not ship costumes internationally. The base price for all costumes is for a one-week rental, with substantial discounts for additional weeks.
Tracy Theatre Originals
Tracy Theatre Originals provides costumes for everything from A Little Night Music to Yeoman of the Guard, along with junior versions of many shows. Contact Tracy Theatre Originals for the availability of shows not listed on their website, including the newest popular shows. They say, "we probably have it, or are planning to build it -- and may be able to build it especially for your production!" Several shows also have props available for rental. Fill out the online form to request a show plot.
Whether you're looking to save money or wish to have more creative control over your finished Broadway costumes, the following books can help you create your own costume designs:
- Stage Costume: Step-By-Step by Mary T. Kidd provides costume descriptions, measurement guidelines, and cutting and assembly directions for everything from medieval costumes to modern styles.
- Like its name suggests, Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 by Katherine Strand Holkeboer offers patterns for costumes from numerous eras and accessories that add the finishing details to any look.
- Elegantly Frugal Costumes: The Poor Man's Do-It-Yourself Costume Maker's Guide by Shirley Dearing focuses on the needs of costumers on a budget, with costume details and suggestions for acquiring free and cheap materials.
- Another book focusing on budget costuming, Costuming Made Easy: How to Make Theatrical Costumes from Cast-Off Clothing by Barb Rogers is a useful option for those with less sewing skill.
- The Costume Book: The Non-Professional's Guide to Professional Results by Mary Burke Morris is designed for those with intermediate to advanced sewing skills, providing inspiration for theatrical and dance costumes.
- If you're interested in costume design as a career, Costume Design 101 by Richard E La Motte can help you get a feel for the ins and outs of the industry.