Ilkley Playhouse has a new face in charge of its abundant and varied wardrobe. Sacha Denney-Rodwell, who also works at Leeds vintage store Blue Rinse, has taken over the running of the facility that not only costumes the many productions at the Weston Road venue, but also hires out its wares to the general public for parties, plays and other events.
From the splendour of Regency dresses to a selection of apple costumes and everything in between, the Ilkley Playhouse wardrobe is a treasure trove of outfits spanning the centuries, as well as the genres. And it is the diversity that excites the 29-year-old, “It is like when I had a fancy dress box as a kid, and my cousin and I would dive into it regularly, letting our imaginations run wild! In fact, for New Year’s Eve, my friends and I held our own murder mystery which was set in the 1950s. We hired all our costumes from the Playhouse because it offered enough variety to dress all of the characters including Dr Fumbles!
Sacha began volunteering in the wardrobe in 2016 and costumed her first play in February 2017. “It was Di and Viv and Rose, which let me create looks to represent both the best and the worst of the 80s” she remembers, “I got to play around with tutus and sportswear!” Her first large-scale production was Kiss Me Kate, later that year, which required the challenging but rewarding task of kitting out cast members in both Elizabethan and 1940s attire.
The Playhouse wardrobe is the destination of choice for Ilkley residents looking to hire theatrical standard costumes to help them stand out at fancy dress parties, as well as for schools and theatre groups preparing to perform some of the most popular productions from the theatrical world. “We do hire a lot of outfits in bulk” says Sacha, “such as the full selection of Sound of Music costumes that we have ready to go.”
The venue has built up its wardrobe stock over the years from a number of different sources. Some are created in-house by the venue’s team of sewing specialists, some come from other theatres such as Opera North, and others are donated by members of the public. “We welcome all donations of weird and wacky costumes” says Sacha, “it’s very exciting looking through to see if something unusual pops up.”
Having taken over the running of the wardrobe, Sacha is keen to invite members of the public to have a look around. “Even if you are not interested in hiring anything, it’s fascinating to see what is on offer, so come along and browse the rails. We are open from 7pm till 9pm on a Wednesday evening, and on a Friday from 10:30am till 1pm.”