Putting the Final Polish on A Chorus Line

Putting the final polish on "A Chorus Line"
Shelby VanOphem
Theatre design and technology student Shelby VanOphem assesses a rental costume

A Chorus Line depicts the often angst-ridden atmosphere of a Broadway audition as professional dancers, “gypsies,” compete against each other for coveted spots in the ensemble of a new show. The characters reveal their dreams and disappointments along the way.

Most of the show is a brilliant and complex fusion of dance, song and compelling authentic drama, but the final scene is pure theatre magic! It lifts the audience and sends them home inspired and exhilarated.

The actors’ dazzling costumes are essential to achieving that effect; they are gold from head to toe. To ensure they achieve all the razz-ma-tazz they need, the OU theatre program has rented the finale costumes from Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival which produced the show last season. The OU students are the first non-Stratford actors to wear the outfits, which have only just become available to rent.

Alaina Whidby
A Chorus Line cast member Alaina Whidby
strikes a pose during 
her fitting

“They are exquisitely made,” said costume shop supervisor Christa Koerner. “The people who work at Stratford are artists.”

The Oakland production will have 25 people appear in the final scene’s chorus line, and the costume shop will build six costumes to add to the rentals. Leslie Littell, who teaches costume design, said Stratford’s Costume Management has been “stellar” to work with. Among other things, they have provided sourcing information for fabrics that will allow the newly built costumes to match the rentals seamlessly!

Recreating what Littell called the “extraordinarily beautiful costumes” has offered the theatre design and technology students a wonderful learning opportunity. Shelby VanOphem and Emily Christienson have spent hours draping muslin garments to reproduce the originals. They used the muslin to create paper patterns, which they then used to cut the garment pieces from the costume fabric.

The performers are very excited to wear such amazing costumes. Almost without exception, each of them remarked on the weight of their fabulous gold top hat!  As her contribution tech and design student Krystal Smoger has painstakingly recreated three additional hats, using plain black ones as bases. Everything is going to shimmer and shine. It should be glorious!


A Chorus Line opened in Varner Studio Theatre on Thursday, March 23, 2017, with shows on Friday, March 24; Saturday, March 25; Sunday, March 26; Wednesday, March 29; Thursday, March 30; Friday, March 31; Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2. 

More information is available on the Music, Theatre and Dance website.