Showing Variety Through Costumes
by Heather McGaughey
The idea of the 1940s Now variety show started small, but in the end it grew into an event that united Southwestern students, staff, faculty and members of the community of Georgetown and beyond. This student-produced endeavor became a some-what historical occasion, for never (at least in recent history) had a project attempted to bring together generations and citizens alike to create a fun-filled night of family entertainment. My contribution consisted of acting as assistant director and costume designer of the show. I was honored to received a generous grant from the King Creativity Fund to finance the purchase of materials create my costume designs.
I began my project with research into the clothing styles of the 1940s as well as a look at the original variety shows on television at the time. Then I began sketching design ideas as well as searching in SU’s costume loft for costume pieces I could utilize for this extensive project. Many of the costumes that ended up onstage I built in my spare time, spending late nights and long weekends in the costume shop with a quite a few dedicated volunteers to assist me. I utilized my negotiating skills by working out deals with certain companies for discounts on such specialty costumes as several tuxedos and two gorilla suits. By the time the performances rolled around, I had overseen the costumes of the approximately 60 performers that appeared onstage.
The outcome was outstanding! I was extremely proud of everyone’s work, from the hosts who wrote the skits, to the performers who entertained so enthusiastically, to the designers and tech crew who worked such long, long hours. As I sat in the audience, one person in an almost sold out house, I realized how wonderful it is to share my joy of Theatre with all my friends as well as with the Georgetown community. Our show was a success!