Customer creates with collage for Sweeney Todd

Show opens tonight at the Bellows Falls Opera House

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BELLOWS FALLS — For costumer Sandy Klein, working with adults has the plus that "they come with their own gray hair and wrinkles" and don't need wigs and special make up.

Klein is creating the costumes for the Main Street Arts production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" that opens Tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Bellows Falls Opera House.

In her other role as creative director at the New England Youth Theatre, Klein works with youth who are just trying out their bodies and have not yet had the life experiences adults bring to the characters they are interpreting.

"Adults have a wealth of knowledge about the characters, are more involved and understand the costumes," she said. But she adds that the sizes are bigger and require more tweaking to make them work.

The costumes for Sweeney reflect the Victorian period, with long skirts, multiple layers, trimmings, furbelows and elements of Steampunk.

Klein describes her method of creating the costumes as collage, combining pieces from different sources rather than making everything from scratch.

"I use existing costumes, tweaking and adding to make them look old fashioned," she said.

"The NEYT collection is huge, with three rooms of costumes."

She explained that NEYT shares it costume wealth with the community, and others donate to the NEYT collection.

Klein has been creative director at NEYT since 2002, but she came to it after running a nursery school in Putney for 30 years.

When her daughter had a role in an NEYT production of Charlotte's Web, Klein was drawn in to help and soon became fully involved.

"I was one of the first employees," she said. "My interest in art and the students made it a good fit."

That collaborative spirit is what Klein enjoys about working with the Sweeney Todd cast and its director, David Stern.

"I'm very comfortable with it and like making costumes that work with how the director wants to tell the story," she said.

She says she sees the costumes as part of a collage of the set and the characters and how they contribute to the whole.

Klein's skill set is an outgrowth of her years as a 4-H member in her native Canterbury, N.H., where she learned to sew from the women of the community, and of the six years she spent training in a variety of arts at Plymouth State College, including painting and printmaking.

She came to her Sweeney gig through working with Stern on sets at NEYT, which led to her costuming last year's MSA production of Bat Boy: The Musical. At NEYT, she costumes seven major shows a year and oversees a half dozen more. While working on Sweeney Todd, she is also working with two of its cast members, Aidan Flower Des Jardins and Liam Johnson, on an upcoming NEYT production of Hot L Baltimore and gearing up for Alice in Wonderland with another cast.

After the gala opening night tonight, Klein's costuming skills will be on display in Sweeney Todd performances Friday and Saturday, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 23, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m. Theatergoers are invited to create their own costumes for tonight's Steampunk Night, with prizes for best costume

Ticket prices range from $15 to $100, with special $5 student rates at certain performances.

Reservations and ticketing information can be found at Mainstreetarts.org or by calling MSA at 802-869-2960.

The production is a collaboration between MSA and NEYT, New England Center for Circus Arts, Sandglass Theater, River Theater, Kimball Union Academy, Shakespeare & Co. of Lenox, Mass., and the Town of Rockingham.

Sponsors of the production are Allen Brothers, Brennan Building Contractors, Cota & Cota, Greater Falls Pharmacy, High Meadow Rovers, Kimball Union Academy, LaValley Building Supply, Rockingham Arts & Museum Project (R.A.M.P.), Ruggerio's Trash Removal, Springfield Printing and Village Square Booksellers.






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