Costumes And “Curtains”

There are many reasons to see Staples Players’ production of “Curtains” tomorrow or Saturday.

There’s the usual, of course:  Great acting, fantastic music, compelling choreography, Broadway-caliber sets.

And one that’s little-mentioned, but key to any show:  costumes.

The cast is big:  around 60.

But the costumes are even bigger.  Director David Roth estimates there are 400 different costumes in the black comedy/murder mystery/show-within-a-show.

“It’s the biggest costume show we’ve ever done,” he says — and that’s saying something.

Carmen Bernstein (played by Eva Hendricks) sings "It's a Business" -- and so is costuming the cast of "Curtains." (Photo by Kerry Long)

Though seldom noticed, costumes are vital to a show.  “Performing is about taking an audience to a completely different world,” Roth says.  “Costumes do that.”

It’s not just audiences though.  Roth sees a major transformation when actors finally put costumes on.

“They walk and move differently,” the veteran director explains.  “They even think differently, based on what they’re wearing.”

Priscilla Stampa and Marjorie Watt adjust Michelle Pauker's headpiece. (Photo by Kerry Long)

For the past several years, Players has been blessed to have had 2 superb costume designers.  Marjorie Watt and Priscilla Stampa — parents of former Players — spend countless hours most of their lives helping students create costumes for each show.

“Create costumes” does not do the process justice.  They find impossible-to-procure items.  They sew, alter, trim.  They accessorize, adding scarves, hats, ties and wigs.  They even make sure married characters wear wedding rings.

“Unless it’s a really splashy show like ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ audiences are not always aware of costumes,” Roth notes.

“And audiences definitely don’t appreciate the incredible amount of work that goes into making costumes.”

When you see “Curtains” this weekend, enjoy the acting.  Applaud the musicians and dancers.  Gawk at the set.  See if you can figure out who killed Jessica Cranshaw.

But don’t forget the costumes.  The designers, costume mistress Kathryn Durkin and her crew will not take a bow.

But “Curtains” would never open without them.

(“Curtains” concludes its run this Friday and Saturday [Nov. 19 and 20] at 7:30 p.m.  For ticket information, click here.  Tickets will also be sold this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Staples’ main entrance, from 12:30-2 p.m.  For more details, call 203-341-1310.)

The cast sings "Thataway" -- in one of their many costume changes. (Photo by Kerry Long)

7 responses to “Costumes And “Curtains”

  1. Catherine Davis

    Thanks Dan for publicizing these unsung heros! When Westporters say, “Who needs to go to Broadway when we have the SHS productions?”, they are not aware of what a big part those costumes play. I had the pleasure of working with Priscilla from Kings Highway plays through Coley Middle’s and her attention to detail and insistance on historical accuracy coupled with her kindness and patience and calmness in the midst of the backstage storms were legendary. This is her fifth year dealing with high schoolers and she has retained her sense of humor and sanity. Priscilla is another example of a Westporter stepping up to add their professional experience to a school event. Maybe we’re NOT all bad! PS WHAT a game last night! Congrats!!

  2. Dan is right. Curtains is an amazing show for all of the reasons that makes Staples Players great. But like a well designed computer interface, the costumes tend not to be noticed because they work so well. Each costume becomes part of each character and the characters/costumes in this show are the best. Do not miss Curtains. But do take a moment to look at what each actor is wearing. It is a creation of beauty. But if you can someday, stop by the costume room next to the rear entrance of the Black Box Theater and see how these two terrific ladies create miracles.

  3. Thanks, Dan! For calling attention to one of Players most powerful assets. We could never come close to doing what we do without Priscilla and Marjorie.
    Come see CURTAINS this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 P.M.
    Tickets at

  4. The Dude Abides

    Roth is great. His father still can play a mean game of tennis too!

  5. Max Stampa-Brown


    • Max Stampa-Brown

      I want to note that my comment was censored from the eff word to a replacement of more satanic nature.
      Furthermore Marjorie and my Mother connect to the students in a manor that many other faculty members (not only within staples players) do not. Behind the Black Box, the costume room is seen as a place of sanctity and understanding with the two Women manning their small/crowded/yet homey room of magic. Surely a few students of the organization have stumbled into a conversation with Mrs. Watt that ended with hysterical laughter. It’s important to have people who understand tensions and faults occurring within the theatrical world, better yet people who have parental guidance and love to share.

  6. Andy Friedland

    I just feel compelled to second everything that has been said thus far, except maybe the part about Roth’s dad’s tennis game. Not too sure about that one. Marjorie and Priscilla are truly masters of their craft, and SHS is blessed to have them. They never stop working and their door is always open to have a great life discussion or just a fun rant. My Staples Players experience wouldn’t have been the same without them. To all those involved in the show, break legs!