By David Capobianco
Over the last month, three large storage pods have been outside the Little Theatre, in the faculty parking lot. Those pods have been used to store costumes from the Little Theatre costume shop during the renovations of the shop. The renovations were prompted towards the end of the fall semester during a routine inspection on campus by the Nassau County Fire Marshall. The Fire Marshall’s inspection found that the clearance space from the ceiling to the shelves in the shop and the shop’s stock room was not up to code.
Professor and Costume Shop Manager, Jen Rice, said that in the past, growing stock forced them to add more pipes and shelves to the stock room, which eventually resulted in the space no longer being in compliance with the Nassau County Code. Since the required changes were so extensive, Rice and her team decided to go through with a full renovation for both the stock room and costume shop. “This was an opportunity to take a look at the room as a whole, and how we could improve the way we use the space,” she said. “It was decided that since we were going have to reconfigure a portion of the room, it would be greatly beneficial to redesign the entire space.”
From the beginning of December to just last week, the costume shop, which has costumes for every theatre and dance production that LIU puts together, was completely redone, as well as the stock room. Heather Drastal, general manager of the Post Theatre Company, said that the rooms are now updated with new flooring and light fixtures, and are much less cramped.
Rice designed the entire new space herself, modeling it after the TDF Costume Collection store in Astoria, New York. “With the new design, we get the ceiling clearance, and will now have a space that is specifically set up for what our stock has become,” she said.
Renovations began in early December, coinciding with the dance company’s tech week, which began on Dec. 5. Senior dance major, Jen O’Neill, pointed out that tech week is one of the busiest times of the year for both dance majors and the crew. The week requires an extensive and exhaustive set-up for five shows over one weekend.
The renovations continued during tech week because “the preliminary work was completed more quickly than we had anticipated, and we were glad to be able to begin the main part of the project sooner,” Rice said. “It didn’t interfere with tech.”
Due to the construction, all of the costumes from the shop that were not being used during the shows that week, as well as other materials from the stockroom, were stored in the pods outside of the theater. “Every single article of clothing had to be moved from the shop to the pods,” O’Neill said. Rice discussed a time during a show when they considered replacing an item because it wasn’t specifically a dance-related garment however, the item was already in the pod. Since it would’ve been difficult to get out, the dancer just kept the original garment.
Working around the renovations, the dance crew was able to have a successful tech week and avoid any problems. “It opened my eyes to how much of a team effort our shows are,” O’Neill said. “Our thanks goes to the people who work hard behind the scenes to make things happen. With the help of Jen Rice, it was truly smooth sailing.”
The renovations are now complete, and everything is back to normal. The swiftness in which the renovations were completed was a “pleasant surprise” for Drastal, who said that everything seemed to go smoothly.
The pods were just emptied on Wednesday, and theater and costume shop are now back to fully functioning running smoothly again, just in time for the beginning of the spring semester.