Let's Talk About Our "Show Clothes"

Erin Malody

OnStage Minnesota Columnist

We all have them.   And we love them.  Those precious items of clothing that remind us of shows we’ve done, or seen.  Whether they’re show shirts, costume pieces, or have more subtle connections every one of them is special to us. It can take years to convince a Theater kid to get rid of even one of their old show shirts.  To others those are just clothes, but to us they are so much more than that.

First let’s talk about the show shirts.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I still have my show sweat shirt from my very first show when I was just 14 years old.  The weirdest thing is that I think it might still fit.  Not to mention the sweat shirt I got during that unforgettable summer I was a part of Penumbra Theater Summer Institute.  PTSI forever!  And it’ll take years before I can even look at my show shirts from the 39 Steps and Shrek without the memories flooding back.

I admit that I have let old high school show shirts go over the years.  I’m so sorry Cyrano and Ducks and Lovers!  In my defense they were so faded that soon they would just become plain T shirts. I was sad to say goodbye to them and my old High School Theater hoodie as well. They might be gone, but the memories aren’t.  (sigh)  Good shows, good times.

Which brings me to the second type of show clothes.  Yes, I’m talking about our old costumes.  I still have the off white strawberry printed dress with green spaghetti straps that I wore in West Side Story my Sophomore year in High School.  If you look carefully you can still see the alteration that my mom added to the left strap when I broke my arm and had to wear a sling until opening day.  My black flats?   You mean my Madrigal Dinner, 39 Steps, and Shrek character shoes.  The only white tights I have were part of my Ugly Duckling/Swan costume in Shrek.  I have a silver Tiara that has seen a student written show and the Madrigal Dinner.  Not to mention my Renaissance Costume has moved from the basement to the back of my closet.

Finally we get to the memory pieces. These are the clothes we bought/were given after seeing special shows.  One of my favorite sweat shirts is actually a memory piece.  It’s a black sweatshirt with green cat’s eyes on it that my dad bought for me after we saw Cats for my 15th birthday.  I also have a rainbow scarf that I my mom got me on a trip. I’d seen Joseph with my best friend a few months before and when my mom let me have first pick of the scarves I automatically grabbed the rainbow one.

The next time anyone tries to talk you into letting go of any of your show clothes don’t you dare listen to them!  They just don’t understand how much that shirt/dress/scarf/pair of shoes etc. means to you. They can’t understand why you smile every time you see that specific item of clothing. You are not a hoarder for keeping things from shows. They are special.

Photo: Gresham High School