Theatre costume designers have one less shop from which to rent from as of February 25 when Dodger Costumes officially closed its doors.
Credited as the largest costume shop in the US with almost half a million pieces, the shop's joint owners, Stage Holding and Dodger Theatricals, determined to end their ownership of Dodger Costumes and “are working to pass on the business and its inventory to another management,” the companies said in a February 28 statement.
The closing was sudden and caught the industry off guard. “Dodger Costumes, in all its name incarnations and various locations, has been such a part of theatre history,” says Jennifer Caprio, costume designer for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. “Everyone from community theatres to Radio City's Christmas Spectacular has used them. I've gotten whole shows out of there when I've needed to. I'm not sure what's going to happen, since Dodger is such a widely used resource that we are losing. It depends on what happens to the costumes — if someone takes over, or if they liquidate.”
Dodger Costumes came into existence in 1998 when the Dodgers and Stage Holdings, the Amsterdam-based company run by Joop van dan Ende, acquired the Eaves-Brooks Costume Company, Inc. Founded in 1863, the Eaves Costume Company on East 12th Street in Manhattan went on to become the most famous costume company in America. The Eaves-Brooks Costume Company emerged in 1981 when Eaves acquired the Brooks-Van Horn Costume Company. The new shop then moved to the company's 11,000 sq.ft., six-story facility in Long Island City, next to Silver Cup Studios. There was also a facility on West 26th Street in Manhattan that was just as popular with New Yorkers looking for Halloween costumes as it was for theatre designers.
The closing of Dodger Costumes is just one of many setbacks the company has faced in recent months. Last October, the company cut back on its staff amid reports that the producing company, a force on Broadway for more than a decade, and Stage Holding were discussing the restructuring of their producing partnership. Making matters worse, Dodgers' recent Broadway ventures — Dracula and Good Vibrations — were not exactly critical darlings; both were panned and Dracula closed after less than five months while Good Vibrations is playing to around 50% capacity. However, on the upside Dodger Stages, the new off-Broadway theatre complex on West 50th Street in Manhattan is going gangbusters with four of its five theatres booked with popular shows including the critically lauded Altar Boyz and The Musical of Musicals: The Musical.
The Dodgers, made up of American partners, originated at BAM in 1978, then migrated to the New York Shakespeare Festival, and then off and on Broadway. Past Dodger Broadway productions include Urinetown, Into the Woods, The Music Man, Blast!, Titanic, Footloose, The King and I, The Who's Tommy, Jelly's Last Jam, The Secret Garden, and many more.
The Dodger organization declined comment for this story.