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April 25, 2014

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Photos: The wardrobe behind Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’ at Smith Center

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Leila Navidi

Seamstress Reyna Martinez of Las Vegas mends a costumes for the touring production of “Anything Goes” at the Smith Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.

'Anything Goes' Wardrobe

Michael Louis, wardrobe supervisor for the touring production of Launch slideshow »

It’s hours before the debut of “Anything Goes” at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas on Tuesday, and while the stage crew is busy unloading six trucks of lighting, set pieces and other equipment, wardrobe supervisor Michael Louis has his hands full managing hundreds of costume elements that help bring the show’s characters to life.

In a show replete with glamour, disguises and mischief, the wardrobe often takes center stage. The day began at 8 a.m., with Louis’ team and a local crew unloading the 10 gondolas, or wardrobe storage cases, containing costumes for each of the show’s 28-person cast and their understudies. With outfits requiring as many as 15 pieces of clothing and accessories, there’s a lot to oversee.

From woven silk to hand-beading to sequined tassels, each detail of the 1920s and ’30s-styled garb was paid careful attention by late designer Martin Pakledinaz, who selected colors, fabrics and patterns to help evoke and accentuate each character’s personality.

“It’s an honor to be able to help show the work he did,” Louis says.

Pakledinaz’s attention to detail means Louis and his team must pay extra mind to the care of the garments; tassels are combed and untangled by hand after every performance, while strings of sequins are separated and aligned on each chorus dancer’s skirt. Wear and tear is inevitable, and the day’s first order of business after unloading the wardrobe is attending to the ripped seams, missing buttons and other casualties incurred since the last performance.

“This rack has already been refilled three times today,” Louis says, gesturing to the rack of robes, blazers, dresses and coats waiting to be repaired, next to which the show’s seamstress sits hunched over a sewing machine.

After repairs and laundry -- 15 to 18 loads, in addition to several loads of hand washing -- Louis and his team prepare for the performance, during which all costumes and accessories must be on hand at backstage wardrobe stations for dressers to assist with swift costume changes. With some characters requiring 12 to 15 outfits per show, there’s often as much going on behind the stage as on it.

“It’s not as glamorous as what you see onstage, but we’re definitely running a show back here, too,” Louis says, chuckling. “We’re back here sweating and frantic, and they walk out [onstage] calm and cool. That’s our job.”

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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