Dress Parade

Rosemary Pardee supervising the Washington Revels costume parade.
Rosemary Pardee supervising the Washington Revels costume parade. Photo: Helen Fields

It’s a time to wait, to memorize lyrics, to wait some more, to do homework, to keep waiting, and to discover the occasional threaded needle stuck in your clothes. It’s dress parade, and it’s part of the reason why we all look so great on stage.

The costume team has been working for months, but this Sunday was the first time the costume designer, artistic director, and a bunch of other people got to see the entire cast in costume.

I showed up at the Revels office for my 5 p.m. appointment – a little early, in some vague (and incorrect) hope that this would mean I would get out early. In the costume work and storage area on the lower level, a helpful volunteer found my hanger on a rack. I’d had a fitting earlier in the week, so I already knew I had a super pretty costume (yay!) and that it’s the right size. It was my first time seeing the headpiece, so I made a guess at how it went on and sat down in the conference room upstairs.

The previous group was still being worked on, so those of us who were scheduled at 5 sat with our music notebooks open on the table, singing together and working on memorization.¬†After about an hour of that, it was finally time to work. And by “work” I mean “stand still while other people work.”

The first thing I learned was that I’d guessed wrong about how my headgear worked – it was on backwards. Designers suggested changes to costumes. Pieces of fabric were grabbed from the overflowing boxes and held up to heads or waistlines. A teenager in my group kept appearing in different dresses. A few different necklaces were put on me and taken off again.

Here I am with my stage husband (not a real husband) and Lois, the inimitable wardrobe mistress. She was trying out options for a wide sash.

Dress parade can be a little boring for the chorus, but it’s downright grueling for the production team – it’s a good idea to bring them snacks. Lois likes chocolate and lemon bars.

At the end of the day, I had new headgear and lots of shiny rings. I’m happy to report that Bobby kept his giant medallion. I’m also happy to report that we were the last group, so I got to eat one of the leftover lemon bars. (After I changed back into my clothes, of course. No eating in costume!)

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