9 productions in 6 weeks? No sweat. Costume Shop Manager Lauren Perigard enjoys life too much to worry.

 

Lauren during the recent Annual Costume Shop sale. Lauren will use the proceeds to purchase a new sewing machine.

“I love to hire my own staff. That’s huge. I get to choose big famous designers in Philadelphia to come here and work with kids! That’s cool for them,” says Lauren. “I get to hire interns from fashion departments from high schools that have theater departments.”

“A sparkler.” “Effervescent.” “A ray of sunshine.” “Animated.” “Enthusiastic.” “Full of life and energy.” These are just some of the ways members of the Summer Stage staff recently described Costume Shop Manager Lauren Perigard in an informal poll.

I recently caught up with Lauren when she and her staff were busy designing their outfits from scratch for the Harry Awards. “We’ve done it the past couple of years. We make the patterns, we make the costumes to show off our talents!”

DO THE MATH…

The sheer volume of the costumes that are made, ordered, and fitted during the Summer Stage season is enough to make one’s head spin. Think of it – six Children’s Theater shows, each with an average of 70 performers. Each show with its own theme, style, and color scheme. Add to that the two Rising Stars productions!

And then there’s the Mainstage production. This year there were 80 performers in “Titanic.” Each with at least one costume change, the actors who played first class passengers each had four costume changes. The second class passengers had three costume changes. When you do the math, for “Titanic” alone, there were at least 260 unique costumes! There is no question that Mary Folino’s job costume designing for “Titanic” was as epic as the show itself. Mary comes from Walnut Street Theater and she met Lauren there in 2005 when Lauren moved to Philadelphia for the apprenticeship at Walnut Street.

“My background is in sewing and in design. But I hire the people who create and I don’t sew a thing during the summer. I oversee all the details and coordinate all the schedules,” says Lauren. “I find it fantastically rewarding to pull off nine shows flawlessly and have thousands of people in the theater seeing our work on stage.”

LAUREN’S PATH TO SUMMER STAGE

In addition to meeting Mary Folino at Walnut Street Theatre, Lauren met Rob Harris, who was a long-time Summer Stager and staff member. “I was into educational theater and Rob told me about the program,” says Lauren. This is her sixth season with Summer Stage.

In that time, Lauren has designed for the Children’s Theater (“Charlotte’s Web” and “Peter Pan”), Mainstage (assisted with “Beauty and the Beast” and “My Favorite Year”), has been assistant costumer shop manager and now oversees the department.

During her time as Costume Shop Manager, Lauren has moved the shop from one little room to much more space down the hall from the Apprentice and Rising Stars classrooms.

“I love to hire my own staff. That’s huge. I get to choose big famous designers in Philadelphia to come here and work with kids! That’s cool for them,” says Lauren. “I get to hire interns from fashion departments from high schools that have theater departments.”

DE-STRESSING

With all the work that needs to be done in the eight short weeks the staff is on site, there must be stress, but with Lauren in the lead everyone seems to keep a level head. “Every day at 3pm we take the time to do yoga. It helps to center ourselves. It takes our minds off of being super crazy. Yep. We bring out the Yoga mats and do stretches and focus on our breathing.”

WHY KEEP COMING BACK?

Why does she keep coming back to Summer Stage? “This job makes me so happy! That’s why! I have a very optimistic view on life,” says Lauren. “I love kids! I’m the oldest of three kids so I grew up passing along my enthusiasm to them.”

“Everyone here wants to help and learn,” adds Lauren. “We’ve got a lot of helpers this year. They do what you ask them with a smile. Nobody rolls their eyes. No one says, ‘Oh, I have to wear that costume?’ All the kids say ‘thank you!’ They’re excited about a T-shirt that we give them!”

“You get everything you want at Summer Stage…with a smile! You don’t have to beg. You don’t have to compromise. It’s just really easy here because everyone does their job the way they’re supposed to.”

When Lauren wraps up her season here at Summer Stage, she jumps in full speed ahead to a new position as Costume Shop Manager for Drexel University which will begin on September 5th.  In addition she is designing the show “Kimberly Akimbo” for Theater Horizon which opens September 9th, and she’ll continue as costumer coach at Lower Merion High School.

But already Lauren is planning to make improvements to the costume system for next year. “I get to come back every year and make the magic happen!”

3 Responses to “9 productions in 6 weeks? No sweat. Costume Shop Manager Lauren Perigard enjoys life too much to worry.”

  1. MaryBeth Weir

    Lauren is the best! She makes every person that walks through her door feel special, needed and appreciated. I’ve stopped by to help her for 3 summers now and love doing it. My son was an apprentice this year and would stop by when he was done to get me and she made him feel special too. Costume Shop is the most fun place to work, everyone there is great and their leader is amazing!

    Reply
  2. Michele MacEachern

    Bravo, Lauren! Ever since her days in high school musicals, Lauren knew that theater would be her life. Wherever she has worked, her incredibly original costumes have rivalled those of shows I’ve seen on Broadway. As her own person, she has the rare combination of indomitable spirit and infectious humor. Lauren may be small in stature, but her talent just keeps on growing. Drexel’s new season will be a must-see. You go, girl!

    Reply
  3. John Grace

    Lauren’s talent and enthusiasm for her work, and life, combine every afternoon in PLAYERS, Lower Merion High School’s theatre program. Not only does she accomplish things similar to all of what she does for the kids in Summer Stage, she adds another element of teaching. Lauren teaches students HOW to become costume designers, then guides the student designers into creating their own world of magic, fabric, color and thread! I am privileged to work with her.

    Reply

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