There's No Dresses Like Show Dresses
By MELENA Z. RYZIK
Published: October 24, 2004
You may never be a Broadway actor, but you can dress like one. Exactly like one, in fact: on Tuesday, the T.D.F. Costume Collection will begin selling 20,000 of its (approximately) 85,000 costumes in preparation for a move to a smaller space. The collection, currently housed on the 17th floor of the Starrett-Lehigh building, has been built over four decades from donations by Broadway, Off Broadway and opera productions, as well as movies, television shows and individual designers.
The items in the collection, which are rented to nonprofit theater companies, include 18th-century frock coats, psychedelic Peter Max-inspired dresses, boxes of boas and gloves, the occasional caveman outfit and a set of Swiss guard uniforms from a production of "Tosca" at the Met. It also includes three of Nell Carter's gowns from "Ain't Misbehavin' "; the costumes from "Jelly's Last Jam"; and Luciano Pavarotti's doublets from "Il Trovatore." Those won't be for sale - the collection, part of the Theater Development Fund (which also runs the TKTS ticket booths), keeps the very best stuff for itself. "There wouldn't be something like Sandy Duncan's 'Peter Pan' costume - we'd keep that," said Greg Poplyk, the collection's director. "But there might be some Ben Vereen tap shoes in one of the boxes."
The three-day sale, the collection's first to be open to the public, will be priced by-the-bag: $20 the first day, $10 the second, and so on (information at www.tdf.org
). For Halloween scavengers curious about the stage-cred of an outfit, Mr. Poplyk said: "If it's a costume, it'll have a label in it. It might say 'Carelli Costumes' and it might have a name in it, like Joel Grey; they could do a Broadway database search and track it down."
The sale might be a haven for would-be Norma Desmonds, but not for Mr. Poplyk, who counts Halloween as one of his least favorite times of the year. "That is such a busman's holiday," he said. "No, thank you."