SCERA provides costumes for the masses

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One costume shop’s sequined ’80s trainwreck is another’s Cinderella ball gown.

The SCERA Costume Shop, part of Orem’s SCERA Center for the Arts, held its annual sale on Saturday, selling an array of discarded theater treasures that have accumulated over the past year. Every September, the costume shop rounds up the forlorn props and forgotten costumes that clutter its backstage inventory and sells them to the public, yard-sale style. The sale had primarily costumes and furniture, an army of mannequins, lighting equipment and a trunk full of wigs. The sale typically benefits other playhouses and local high school theater departments, all in search of the perfect accessories to fit their current production.

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Children rummage through a pile of wigs during the Costume Shop Yard Sale at the Scera Center fot the Arts in Orem on Saturday.

Mareen Robinson, the costumer for the Spanish Fork Community Theater, found herself at the yard sale for that exact purpose: outfitting her cast for their future production of “My Fair Lady.”

“My best find here has been these vintage black and white dresses,” Robinson said. “They’re perfect for ‘My Fair Lady’ and not very easy to find.”

Robinson frequently scouts out theater yard sales in the area, but reports that some are better than others. The pile of black sequined dresses in her arms proved this sale was one worth scouting out, at 8:30 in the morning no less.

Deborah Bowman, the SCERA Costume Shop manager, manned the cash register while helping customers. As manager, she is well acquainted with the heaps of costumes in SCERA’s inventory.

“There are 12-15 years worth of clothes, set pieces, props and sound equipment for sale today,” Bowman said. “We still have 5,000-square-feet of inventory filled with costumes.”

The selection of costumes at the yard sale is only a taste of the SCERA’s costume collection. The yard sale highlights include vintage dresses and jackets, skirts, petticoats and almost every other item of clothing imaginable, including a Big Mac costume. The props and costumes for sale have been used in such productions as “Thoroughly Modern Milly,” “South Pacific” and Elton John’s “Aida.” The costumes for sale are treasures, and parting with them is not always easy, Bowman explained.

“It’s just too hard to use the vintage dresses in shows,” Bowman said. “They’re beautiful, but too fragile and difficult to wash.”

Similar to the costumes, the wide variety of props for sale suggests an even more interesting collection not for sale. Sheri Stakebaked, a SCERA employee, said between so many different productions at the SCERA the props department has acquired a unique collection.

“We have all sorts of furniture, a phone booth, fake food, anything and everything you would find in a house and a huge, stuffed, pink throne,” Stakebake said. “It’s ugly, but it gets used and rented all the time.”

Adam Robertson, SCERA’s CEO, acted as the king of the yard sale when it came to guiding customers. According to Robertson, the yard sale is an annual event for a reason. Between donations and a full line-up of productions, the costume shop is constantly building and acquiring new items.

“At some point you have to admit that you have two or three really nice coffins,” Robertson said. “That means it’s probably time to get rid of a coffin.”

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