Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'Lost Colony' has brand-new old clothes

Tony-winning designer made sure each outfit has the aged look it needs.
By Martha Waggoner
Associated Press

RALEIGH --Two days before opening night of “The Lost Colony,” Tony award-winning designer William Ivey Long was still working on costumes. They were all new, but had to look very, very old.

“The Lost Colony” tells the true story of an English settlement founded in 1587 on North Carolina's Outer Banks whose colonists mysteriously disappeared.
And so, Long was at it with cheese graters and rasps, aging the costumes that he and his staff had created. The costumes were made to replace more than 1,000 outfits destroyed in a fire last fall at the Waterside Theatre in Manteo, not far from the site of the original colony on Roanoke Island.

“This has been the greatest challenge and, for me, the greatest assignment of my entire life,” said Long.

It seems implausible that work on a regional outdoor drama could top the five Tonys that Long has won for his costume work in “Hairspray,” “Grey Gardens,” “The Producers,” “Crazy for You,” and “Nine.”

But Long, who donated his time and labor to “The Lost Colony,” has been affiliated with the show his entire life. His father was technical director for “The Lost Colony,” and Long was 8 when he first performed as a colonist boy.
He dyed and mottled the clothes himself before moving on to tear the sleeves, hems and, for the men, the knees, to age the clothes the colonists wear in the final scenes before they disappear.

“The Lost Colony” production, which has been performed each summer at the Waterside since 1937, bills itself as the nation's longest-running symphonic outdoor drama. Producer Carl Curnutte said the show was bound to return despite last year's blaze, which caused more than $2.7 million in damage. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.