With extended schedule, ballet costumiers busy this time of year
By Craig Smith
Published: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, 11:48 p.m.
She has dressed Cinderella and Peter Pan, even “the queen of the Nile.”
This time of the year, though, Janet Groom-Campbell is up to her neck in sugarplum fairies.
“With ‘Nutcracker,' it's sort of wonderful ... a constant friend,” said Groom-Campbell, 59, of Moon, in her 39th year with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.
As costumier, she and her team of stitchers build all the costumes for the ballet company.
It can be a daunting task.
When they decided to make swans for the 2010 production of “Swan Lake,” they made 22 tutus. Each took a week.
From a backstage workshop, Groom-Campbell and her team built 110 of 215 costumes for “The Nutcracker.” Costumiers made the rest at shops in New York and Washington.
The ballet “Cleopatra” required 119 costumes, 44 wigs and 76 headpieces. Cleopatra herself made six costume changes.
“That was crazy. It was a joint production with the Boston Ballet and the Houston Ballet, and each of us took one-third,” said Groom-Campbell, who started working here in 1973 as a stitcher.
Her connections with quality suppliers — from Fort Pitt Leather, Uptown, to The Fabric Place in Mt. Lebanon, to Ullrich Shoe Repair, Downtown — helps the ballet touch a multitude of everyday people, said David Seals, communications director for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
“She's integrating ballet into unlikely communities,” Seals said.
Groom-Campbell can't guess how many costumes she has built over the years, but it's a far cry from the six in her first year.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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