Lynne Hinman discussing costume builds with draper Liz Polley | Photo by Brent DeLanoy

Hi y’all, this week I sat down with Lynne Hinman, our Costume Director, to discuss how costume rentals differ from Scenery Rentals. The Costume Director is my counterpart in the costume world, and Glimmerglass is very lucky to have Lynne in this role. In fact, Lynne has been with the Festival in some capacity for twenty seasons. She manages our stock of around 30 show costume packages! Let’s take a look at some of our conversation.   


R: So, Lynne, what’s your first interaction with a company when Abby (our Director of Production) tells you someone has rented a costume package?

L: I try to check in with them to see what the company has seen. They might have chosen the package from watching the show somewhere, or from our website. They might already have photos, piece lists, and/or measurements. 


R: Is a piece list like an inventory? Like what I have in scenery?

L: Yes, but in costumes, piece lists are broken down by character and include every look and piece worn by a character. And each character has a piece list.


R: In early conversations with renters, I talk through the overall ground plan, how it fits into their space, and the equipment/labor/time needed for the install and strike. What are those initial conversations for you centered around?  

L: We would discuss what is in the package and what is available. Sometimes, things like shoes may not be available. Then we would discuss what the size parameters of the costumes are- we can look at the casts overall and see what the size differences are, from their cast versus ours. Every costume has a seam allowance that allows a minimum and maximum for each piece, allowing them to be altered from one performer to another giving variations in casting.


Items such as accessories, shoes, and jewelry may be stacked in the plastic bins with descriptions on the outside. These are from our production of The Jungle Book (2022)

R: That’s interesting. In scenery, I make sure to explain any particularly difficult assemblies we have to do. Do you find yourself discussing any difficult costumes like that?

L: Not particularly. As our costumes are sent with the patterns*, if there is ever a costume that just won’t work for their cast member, they can always remake the costume themselves–if that costume is a piece that was built by our shop. Although, I do usually discuss quick change costumes**, to make them aware of any issues. We know they won’t do the show exactly as we did, but we can let them know ahead of time how the quick rig elements work.

*Patterns are the templates for building a garment. Often, they are several pieces of paper that can be laid out on the fabric as a guide for cutting the pieces out. We send these patterns to the company renting our costumes, along with the garments. 

**For those that don’t know, sometimes a performer has to change costumes very quickly, and those costumes receive special features that allow them to be removed or put on much quicker than conventional clothes. This could be something like fake buttons that actually have a snap or magnets.


R: For scenery I’m able to work through a lot of issues ahead of time, so I know what I’m getting into and can prepare for changes. Without casts in front of you, what preparatory work are you able to do if any?

L: What I try to do is go back through the show’s “Bible”, which is photographed documentation of each character’s look, so I can recall anything that may come up. I also focus on recalling the aesthetics of the piece. I have to help with fit and keep things in line with the original vision of the designer.


R: So in that sense you are almost like an assistant designer in some ways.

L: Yes, sort of. In fact sometimes, if the designer is going to be at the fittings, then I may not go with the rental. I just inventory and package everything to send. And then when I get it back I will unpack and re-inventory. When I do go, I’m usually going there at the beginning of fittings. The designer might not be coming until rehearsals. So it’s my job to make sure that the designer is getting the original design that they charge me with creating. When I’m there, I might see a couple of chorus members, but I mostly focus on the principal characters. Those are the ones that have to fit correctly. Depending on the size of the chorus there is usually some flexibility in switching pieces around. 


R: Now when a show returns what is that like? In scenery I do a quick check for damage and then unload it into a bay, but for the most part scenery is unchanged unless I already knew about an adjustment that had to be made. 

Recently back from a rental, these hampers are made from heavy duty canvas and secure wooden lids, and costume pieces are packed neatly in each one.

L: Well, it depends on the contract, but usually the costumes have to be returned already cleaned. If they weren’t, then I have to send things out for dry cleaning. But as far as damage goes, ideally I receive a writeup from the renter of what changes had to be made and I’m able to pass that along with the original information to future renters. Sometimes I don’t get that, and I have to do my best to communicate the possible alterations to future renters. And in some cases they may have made additional costumes, and depending on if those are going to be added to the show, I may need to add that information to the archival information.


R: My last question is, in the scenery world I usually use a 10-15 year lifespan if I have to run structures on a piece. What is the lifespan of a costume rental?

L: That’s difficult to say. It depends on the usage more than length of time. We do our best to make costumes durable, but it is dependent on the fabrics selected by designers. It has to do with fabric choices, but it also has to do with whether the actors are doing activities like dancing, or fight choreography. If it’s sitting in our costume storage, it can last a long time. Our costume section warehouse is temperature controlled, humidity controlled, and most pieces are packed up in plastic or garment bags.

To prevent damage, most costume pieces are sealed in these plastic garment covers, with tape affixed to the outside that details the show, and what character the costume is for.



I want to extend a big thank you to Lynne for taking the time to sit down with me. As we gear up for the season our rental schedule becomes much less busy. But never fear, I always have a plan. Join me over the next few months as I take a look back at some of our memorable rentals that we have sent out in the past.

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