Shannin Strom Henry is The 5th’s incredible Costume & Wardrobe Director! We asked her to share her top ten favorite costume moments that have graced our stage over the years. How many of these looks have you seen? Let us know in the comments!
1. The Christmas dress worn by Jerick Hoffer (Jinkx Monsoon) as Angel in Rent (2012)
Costume Designer: Pete Rush
This dress was made from fake poinsettias, wrapping paper, Christmas stockings and all sorts of other found holiday objects. I loved it for its wackiness, its repurposing and offbeat charm. For this show, the costume shop also got the chance to make overcoats from old purses, Chanel jackets from duct tape—literally clothing found abandoned on the street was made into costumes. The concept pushed a lot of typical costume comfort zones and everyone had fun with it. The production also holds a soft spot for me because it was my first whole show at The 5th and was my favorite musical when it came out in the mid-90s when I was in grad school. I may have listened to the original cast recording about a thousand times.
2. The trio of harem costumes worn by Jenny Powers as Samira in a single scene in Secondhand Lions (2013)
Costume Designer: Anne Hould-Ward
I love not a single costume, but the trio of harem costumes that Jenny Powers wore as Samira in a single scene. There was an Italian one, a Russian one, and a Tibetan one. Anne’s designs were nuanced, magical and playful, detailed and gorgeous. They were built in our shop by amazing drapers and crafts people. To this day this is one of the hardest shows I’ve ever worked on, but I learned so much and those particular costumes were gorgeous. Being able to pick the brain of a Tony Award-winning designer is pretty special. I learned so many secret shopping sources on that show from her, many of which we still use today.
3. The skirt, blouse, and cape combo worn by Suzy Hunt as Eleanor Lavish in A Room with a View (2014)
Costume Designer: Deb Trout
The skirt, blouse, cape combo that Suzy Hunt wore as Eleanor Lavish. This was a relatively small costume show for us and we were able to hand craft so much of this costume and many others. The skirt was hand painted, the blouse was made from vintage fabrics, her purse was handmade from vintage textiles, and her hat was built from scratch. I loved the color combos and the eccentric quality of her look compared to the stodgy Victorianism of the other characters.
4. The red dress worn by Jessica Skerritt as the Countess in The Sound of Music (2015)
Costume Designer: Melanie Burgess
The red dress that Jessica Skerritt wore as the Countess was gorgeous and a feat of engineering. Also, I love a red dress. I got married in one so I’m always a sucker for a gorgeous one.
5. The “Paris Original” Mondrian dresses from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2016)
Costume Designer: Rose Pederson
Again, a group of costumes is one of my favorite moments, the “Paris Original” Mondrian dresses! I absolutely loved how we made each of them character appropriate. Heddy’s was super low cut, tight and sexy, Ms. Jones’s was longer and frumpy, Rosemary’s was charmingly sweet, and the ensemble dresses were more like the actual Yves Saint Laurent original.
6. The Post-It note dresses from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (2017)
Costume Designer: Amy Clark
Those Post-It note dresses! They were only seen at curtain call but, man, they were so fun! It was a challenge to find the right fabric to make them out of. We needed something that came in the right, cheerful saturated colors and was sturdy enough to look like paper, but that could have an unfinished cut edge of fabric without fraying. We ended up using this waterproof diaper cover fabric I found on Etsy. It was perfect! Also, let’s be honest, I loved every costume in that show. It was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever worked on.
7. The finale disco costumes in Mamma Mia! (2018)
Costume Designer: Rose Pederson
Those disco finale costumes that Donna [Kendra Kassebaum], Rosie [Sarah Rudinoff], Tanya [Lisa Estridge], Bill [Matt Wolfe], Harry [Cobey Mandarino], and Sam [Paolo Montalbon] wear! The sequins, the fringe, the lycra, the platform shoes, the utterly over the top-ness of all of it. I also adore that ombréd sequin fabric they were made out of. Rose and I stumbled across it in a downtown LA fabric store and both gasped when we saw it, it was the perfect thing, all the rest of it fell into place around it.
8. The leather doublets worn by Ben Davis as Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate (2018)
Costume designer Alejo Vietti
The leather doublets that Ben Davis wore as Petruchio were stunning and so detailed. It’s the type of work we don’t get to do very often in our shop as we typically have so many costumes to make, however, since most of the costumes already existed from the original co-production with Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C., we were able to put oodles of time into making them. The workmanship and details and math that went into all that leather piecing was extraordinary.
9. The entire design of Rock of Ages (2019)
Costume Designer: Cathy Hunt
I am literally going with the ENTIRE show here, I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite costume as I adored them all. Putting this show together was like reliving junior high and high school all over again. Cathy and I had a blast shopping vintage clothes for this in Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl Flea market and at vintage stores. We laughed ourselves silly many times over the memories so many of these pieces brought back. I loved the whimsical, rock and roll quality she brought to the designs and the way the costume shop and crafts team was able to embellish the rock and roll quality of it all. And let’s not forget the wigs! You can’t do 80s without big hair! (Shoutout to Jason Goldsberry for the amazing wig design!)
10. The white satin pantsuit and white fur coat that Nathaniel Tennebaum was to wear as Eddie Souther in Sister Act (2020)
Costume Designer: Cathy Hunt
This one hurts to write, but some of my favorite costumes are ones people will never see because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But trust me when I say two of my favorite costumes ever are the white satin pantsuit and white fur coat that Nathaniel Tennebaum was to wear as Eddie Souther for “I Could Be That Man,” and the “Fabulous Baby” sequined jumpsuit with mirror ball cape that Lisa Estridge was to wear as Deloris Van Cartier. They are spectacular and again both feats of engineering that the costume shop knocked out of the park. The smiles that came over the actors and all of us in the fitting room were magic. And fun fact: Eddie’s white pantsuit was the last thing we saw on stage for tech of Sister Act before we had to cancel the show. It’s a great memory for all who were there.
Words by Shannin Strom Henry. Compiled by Rachel Liuzzi, Public Relations Manager.
Production photos by Mark Kitaoka and Tracy Martin.