Broadway, Hollywood costumes on exhibit

NEW YORK -- Most Broadway stages may still be dark, but there's a place in Times Square where the costumes shine.

More than 100 costumes from such shows as "Hamilton," "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Wicked" are part of a new exhibit this summer revealing the careful, hand-crafted beauty of garments that can't always be appreciated from the mezzanine in a theater.

"Showstoppers! Spectacular Costumes from Stage & Screen" opened Thursday and tickets are $29, with senior citizen and child access for $24. All proceeds go to the Costume Industry Coalition's recovery fund.

The costumes have been borrowed from such Broadway hits as "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," "The Lion King," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," "Chicago," "The Cher Show," "Frozen" and "Aladdin," as well as TV's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Saturday Night Live."

The 20,000-square-foot, two-level exhibit space at 234 West 42nd St., has been transformed into an immersive areas with mannequins sporting the garments. Visitors can see craftspeople at work spaces beading, painting or stitching costumes, showing intense work that goes into the garments.

"We reached out to all of our partners and asked to borrow assets, not only to show off the product of what we bring to the stage or the screen but also the process," said Brian Blythe, who co-runs the full-service John Kristiansen costume shop and founded the Costume Industry Coalition.

The coalition was born during the pandemic to advocate for the survival of New York's custom costume industry. It is made up of 56 small, unique, independent businesses and artisans in and around New York, many who pivoted to making masks and surgical gowns during the pandemic. Members collectively lost more than $26.6 million in revenue last year.

"The coalition was formed to really advocate for our collective survival. And while we are cordial competitors, we all know each other and we all network because we all work on the same shows together," Blythe said.

Thinc Design, a global design firm founded by former theater set designer Tom Hennes, has designed the exhibit space to be a journey -- complete with video, photographs and music -- through the world of costume making.

Though the costumes may be magical, there is a nod to the current climate: All guests in the space are required to wear a mask throughout the exhibit regardless of vaccination status, except for designated mask-free zones.

"It's a real celebration of the combination of talent and skill and imagination that underwrites some of the spectacle and beauty of the entertainment business in general and theater, film, television and ballet in particular," Hennes said.