Sewing her magic

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Adrienne Conces brings life to Civic’s “Wizard of Oz”

By Terri Spilman

There’s no place like home for costume designer Adrienne Conces as the Zionsville native and Ball State graduate sews her magic to bring an iconic cast of characters to life in the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Wizard of Oz,” on stage until Jan. 3.

Conces and her staff (that only includes one assistant and a handful of volunteers) have the laborious task of building individual costumes for each member of the cast of “Wizard of Oz.” The cast is made up of 42 munchkins played by children and 27 adult characters.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of L. Frank Baum’s story coupled with the 75th anniversary of the Civic Theatre, a special costume theme of gold and sparkly seemed the logical choice to Conces.

“We put in a lot more sparkle, and for the Ozians, it’s typically all different shades of green,” Conces said.  “I incorporated gold and lots and lots of sparkles to add a whole new level of glam so when the lights hit everything, there will be a whole other level of sparkle and magic.”

Conces turned to the classic MGM film for inspiration yet was given free reign by the show’s director as the stage production primarily relies on the costumes to bring the show alive.

“I watched the movie several times,” she said. “At the same time, I knew our director did not want to go the Ozian route that they did in the movie which is the 20s and 30s look.”

According to Conces, every character has something that they wear that sets them apart and makes them memorable and most costumes start out plain built from basic patterns.

“What you see on the pattern is not whimsical or fairytale, so it’s really just a base foundation and your imagination is what makes it – the ruffles, the extra bow in the back, all that is what ends up making it,” she said. “I knew I wanted everything to have gold buttons, which is a theme.”

In between completing her internship at the Civic Theatre and serving in her position as costume designer, Conces spent three years in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. as the Costume Designer at American Heritage Center for the Arts which allowed for many trips to the costume designer’s paradise, Disney World. Her love of Disney served as inspiration for outfitting Glinda the Good Witch of the North.

“My favorite is probably Glinda because it reminds me of when I was a little girl and I just loved big skirts and sparkly fabric. She is much glitterier than the previous one,” she said. “The previous gown had more beadwork so it was beautiful when you were right next to it, but from the audience, you couldn’t necessarily see all the beadwork. So hopefully all the extra sequins will give it an extra level of wonder.”

Conces especially loves designing costumes for the children.

“They love how whimsical everything is. They have these little flowerpot hats,” she said. “I think the adults love it, but the kids; they just love feeling a part of a fantasy land, especially because they usually have to wear their regular school clothes.”

After all the hard work of Conces and her staff since September when the show was cast, her hope is that their labors of love will evoke the audience’s imagination.

“I hope that the costumes do transport you to another world, that they evoke the imagination,” she said. “I think that’s what it’s all about.”

  • The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Wizard of Oz” runs until Jan. 3.
  • For show times and ticket information, visit www.civictheatre.org.

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