More Boo! for your buck

When several characters need multiple costumes per production, the Harlem High School drama department gets creative.


The department and booster club reincarnate thrift-store finds and donations into costumes. In need of some money-saving ideas for Halloween this year? Roy Lewis, the director of the Harlem High drama department, has some tricks for do-it-yourself costumes.

Start by looking at what's on hand, then get creative.

A choir robe can become a pirate shirt. Cut it off to shirt length, close up the top and create tapered sleeves.

A 1980s prom dress has multiple uses. It can be a saloon girl dress by adding a square-dance skirt and hot-glued fringe. Add confectionery layers and it can be an 18th century period piece or ballroom dress.

A long '70s style dress can become a Renaissance dress with the help of patterned curtains. Add puffed sleeves, rip down the center and add a panel in the front.

"If you have an idea of what you're wanting to be, you can add to it," he said.

Dusters for a Western piece were created from old Medical College of Georgia lab coats. Some were dyed, but one left white was decorated with strips of suede for fringe and sequined embellishments from '80s sweaters.

Other costumes are created from scratch. When Mr. Lewis was in the play Forbidden Broadway , a Harvey Firestein dress was created from draped fabric with a hole cut for the head and a boa sewed at the bottom.

A king costume can be created with polyester fabric. The tunic can be created with the "pillow case premise": create a rectangle with three sewed sides, then cut holes for the head and arms. A cape was made with the same fabric, as was a fake white-and-black spotted fur.

The crown is a concoction of cardboard, duct tape and spray paint.

Don't have any use for your costume after Halloween? Mr. Lewis says costume cast-offs can be donated to a high school theater department.

Reach Sarah Day Owen at (706) 823-3223 or



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