Behind the Seams

 Photo by Selena Liu

Costume moms for Holiday Spectacular are working on costumes for the show’s 25th anniversary, which will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in the auditorium. According to choir director Kathrine Kouns, the theme for the Holiday Spectacular costumes have been the same throughout the years. She said each year they try to incorporate lots of different costumes, and since this is only her third year being a part of Holiday Spectacular she spent a lot of time watching previous shows to get an idea of what the spectacle should be similar to.
Shawn Horrocks, member of the Ambassadors and sophomore, said, “I like how many costumes we have, especially as Ambassadors because there’s just so much work put into them by the costume moms. I remember last year as a freshman being amazed with how each costume for the Ambassadors went well with all the boys and girls and how it all looked really good as a whole. The moms don’t spare anything; they just throw everything that they have into making all the costumes perfect.”
According to head costume mom Jana Nordeen, there are one or two moms who are in charge, while the rest help sew costumes. She said this year there is an average of four to five moms helping out per choir. Nordeen said the costume moms’ jobs are to fit the costume pieces, whether reused or new, to each student perfectly by the time fall break comes around. She said this takes a long time because they try to prevent any possible malfunctions, so they start fitting students on Sept. 28 and continue the process of getting all the costumes ready until the Monday after fall break.
“This year’s show is called ‘Let there be peace on Earth, so the theme this year will be focused more on multiculturalism and everything is about holidays around the world which takes our whole opening of the show to Africa. There’s all these African pieces in the beginning, so we specifically had ordered African stoles and new materials that are authentic to a lot of different African cultures…Everything is always determined based on whatever the song is, which hopefully the costumes will help represent the song, so when people are watching they are also hearing and seeing things that go together,” Kouns said.

Photo by Selena Liu

Sydney Greene, Ambassadors member and sophomore, said they try to get the audience in a holiday spirit during every number with their songs and costumes. She said every member of Ambassadors receives a variety of different costumes, from dresses and suits to funny gingerbread men and elf costumes.
Nordeen said depending on the choir, a student will usually have around three to four costumes. She said it often varies, such as with the Ambassadors, who will be getting around four to five costumes, whereas the freshman Counterpoint Men will only have two. Horrocks said there is never a time where the Ambassadors perform on stage wearing the same costume twice.
“Many of the costumes are reused, except for the ones that specifically go with this year’s theme. There’s a tropical, African and Latin theme for certain songs so the outfits will help represent that. All the costumes will generally be sparkly because all the sequins, shiny stuff and different types of material the costumes are made of helps what makes it all so spectacular, ” Nordeen said. “Depending whether how serious the song is versus the more fun types the costumes will help go with the number. This year for the first time since I’ve been here the Ambassadors are doing a Hallelujah chorus, so they will be dressed in more traditional choir robes, while in other songs students will be dressed in outfits like Santa and peppermint outfits.”
Nordeen said during rehearsals and performance nights, the sewing rooms are always open with volunteers because each time a button will inevidently come off or someone will lose a costume piece, so there is always someone to help in any of those cases. Horrocks said he has never experienced any costume problems, but he had heard last year about two kids in the choir who swapped shoes on accident, leaving one to perform with two right feet shoes while the other had to wear the left ones.

Photo by Selena Liu

“What takes the most time with helping with the costumes is organization. Every hanger has to have the name of the choir and the person, and every (piece of) clothing has to have a name on it so when the costume is separate from the hanger the kids know which clothing goes with which hangers. Since we have 1,300 costumes, there are 1,300 hangers with 1,300 labels attached, so it’s pretty time-consuming, but it all pays off in the end with seeing the holiday spectacular outfits on stage,” Nordeen said.
“One of the hardest things about the performance is changing in so little time. You have to make sure you have your costumes set up and a system, such as the people who help you change, down. Everyone is in such a hurry and in the shuffle it’s really easy to lose a costume piece. It helps that some of the costumes have velcro to help quicken up the changing process because then you have more time to make sure you have everything set,” Greene said.

According to Kouns for the most part the students love dressing up. She said it’s impossible to please all 450 students in the program, but she thinks most of the students really enjoy and love it. Nordeen said she was fitting the boys for gingerbread men costumes and, for many, costumes usually depend on what their sizes are. She said the bigger guys were for the gingermen costumes, but there were a lot of smaller boys who really wanted to have the costume too. Nordeen said the moms try to do what they can, so 99 percent of the time the students are satisfied with what they get, but there will always be that one percent that are not happy with what they get.
“It’s fun; it’s a lot of hours and a lot of work, but it’s fun to see it all come together and the kids all excited about it, so I enjoy doing it year after year. I’ve been doing this since my son was a freshman in choir so this is my third year and it’s really been nice to be able to come in and support him and what he’s passionate about,” Nordeen said. “It’s nice to be able to share one of his passions and help him and the choir. Every year the show is always good. I always worry that we’re not going to get done or that something’s going to happen but every year it turns out great I’ve never been disappointed by Holiday Spectacular I think it’ll be great.”

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Sameen Siddiqui