Professional Costumes Jazz Up Drama Guild’s Production


Gabriel Cuadrado

Mrs. McFarland dresses an actress from Benedictine Academy.

Faseeh Bhatti, Staff Writer

After four years, the Drama Guild is doing a musical – well actually a jazzical. Langston Hughes’ “Little Ham” is a “Harlem Jazzical” that has everything from mobsters to showgirls and is set in 1930s Harlem. What makes this production stand out, however, is not only that it’s a musical, but also that the actors will be using the costumes from the original Off-Broadway production of the show.

Director Patricia Flynn is a long-time friend of the producer of the original show. When talking to him after she acquired the rights to the play, the producer noted that he had the original costumes. She asked him if she could rent them. He declined the rental and instead asked if Ms. Flynn could get a professional costumer to organize the costumes if he lent them to her. Ms. Flynn agreed and got the costumes for free.

Finding a professional costumer was not hard for her either. Judy MacFarland, the mother of math teacher Elliott McFarland ‘12, answered the call. Mrs. McFarland works for the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre and Ms. Flynn contacted her to recommend somebody who would be willing to organize the costumes. Instead of recommending someone, Mrs. McFarland volunteered to do it herself. Having been a costume organizer for over 30 years, Mrs. McFarland says that organizing the costumes for the Drama Guild was something that she decided to do in order to give back to St. Benedict’s.

“My main focus is to maintain the costumes and the looks the way the designer designed it,” Mrs. McFarland said, “and the way it looked on opening night.”

One of the most difficult things for her is finding something that can fit on this high school cast because the costumes were originally designed for adults of completely different shapes and sizes.

Trusting the students with the responsibility to use these costumes is a whole burden in itself. “It’s always an issue,” Ms. Flynn said, “They have to be dry cleaned and they have to be in good shape or you get fined.” Ms. Flynn also mentioned that she has had kids in professional costumes before so this is nothing new to her.

What does Mrs. McFarland think of the show? “So far,” she said “it sounds good.”

The Drama Guild’s production of “Little Ham” opens on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. and will also run on Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m.