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Slice of Life: Behind the scenes

What it's like to be a costumer at an Albright Theatre production

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 6:27 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Beth Oberle, costumer for the Albright Theatre Company in Batavia, collects a jacket for an actor to wear in their production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." The show opened Feb. 28 and runs through March 15.

BATAVIA – Albright Theatre Company costumer Beth Oberle wanted to make sure actor Alexander Seymour's suit fit correctly.

"Your pants are the right length, so now I'm happy," Oberle said to Seymour, as he was getting ready to step onto the stage during a recent rehearsal for Albright's production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Oberle is in charge of costume design for the production. But she does a little bit of everything.

"It's community theater. Everybody does whatever needs to be done," Oberle said.

While backstage, Oberle worked to pull the curlers out of actress Maureen Morley's hair.

"I think more, smaller curlers definitely helped," she told Morley. "I just sprayed it, so we'll let it dry."

A few minutes later, she is spraying Static Guard across actress Heidi Swarthout's dress to prevent any chance of static cling during the production.

Before the curtain rose Friday for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," there was plenty of work being done backstage. That included Oberle searching for vintage clothing for the play, which is set in the 1960s.

She scoured local Goodwill stores to find what was needed for the production, including sweaters and tops for the actresses.

"We are blessed in this area to have very good Goodwill stores," Oberle said.

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" will run weekends through March 15 at The Albright Theatre, which is located on the third floor of the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave., Batavia. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students/seniors, and information is available at www.albrighttheatre.com.

Oberle, 46, who lives in St. Charles, caught the theater bug in high school, when she started acting.

"It was an opportunity to be somebody other than who I was," Oberle said. "I loved it. I was always kind of an outgoing kid."

She has been involved with The Albright Theatre since 2009 in different capacities, including as an actress and co-director. She said she "didn't audition for this show, but it was a show that I wanted to be a part of, without having to memorize 95 pages of dialogue."

In the time she has been with The Albright Theatre, she said she thankfully never has seen a wardrobe malfunction.

"That's why you go to read-throughs, to make sure there are no wardrobe malfunctions," Oberle said. "I've come to a couple of dress rehearsals for 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' ' to make sure everything is working."

Oberle said she feels a sense of satisfaction when the costumes or accessories she chooses help the production. She said "sometimes it is that final little piece that brings the character together."

And she said she is a big supporter of community theater and the good it does.

"I think it brings people together," Oberle said. "It extends your community."

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