Meet the Costume Mistress for Something Rotten

Quick stitches, colorful threads, and too many pins to count, make up evenings for the Something Rotten costume crew. A cast member frantically runs up to the crew members, the buttons on his costume ripping out. Another needs help with a quick change. The crew rushes back and forth, working hard to keep this vital part of the show together. In the center of the madness is the production’s costume mistress, Rory Fricano.

I like the fact that when I see people on stage I know that I contributed to that

— Rory Fricano

Rory Fricano, a Woodgrove sophomore, has had a passion for theater from a young age. Her Woodgrove debut was as an elf and a human in Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies, Oh My! but she soon realized she wanted to pursue theater as a crew member, not an actress. Given the experience she had from theater camps, working on costumes was the natural path for her. 

“The first time I actually did any costume stuff I was in seventh grade. I was doing this theater camp and I sewed most of the costumes for it. And then I didn’t [work on costumes] for a while, but freshman year, I decided I didn’t want to act in the musical and I wanted to get more on the tech track, so I interviewed to be the costume mistress for Spongebob. Since then, I’ve been doing almost every show’s costumes for Woodgrove,” said Fricano.

Costume mistress Rory Fricano (right) gives directions to costume crew member Madeline Rogers. (Iza Piatkowski)

Fricano was costume mistress for The Spongebob Musical, on the costume crew for Clue, and then was appointed costume mistress for Something Rotten. Getting to be costume mistress for the show was very exciting for her. 

Something Rotten was a really interesting show because it was a period piece, more so than Clue. Clue was 1950s, but Something Rotten was way back in the Renaissance, which is something we haven’t really done before,” Fricano said. 

According to Get Into Theatre, a production’s costume mistress is in charge of altering and mending costumes, ironing, fitting performers into costumes, looking after costumes between scenes, helping performers change, and storing costumes, among other things. All of these jobs had to be done carefully and precisely, especially since the costumes of Something Rotten are very special.

Mrs. Beverly Pruzina, the Woodgrove theater teacher and director of Something Rotten, said, “They’re very expensive. We rented them from a professional costumer. The neat thing about them is some of them are directly from the movie The Other Boleyn Girl. It starred Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana.” 

Fricano had to work carefully with such delicate and remarkable costumes. Part of her job was teaching the actors how to treat their costumes, which proved to be a challenge. 

“I have to yell at the actors sometimes because of how they disobey the costume rules. Since these costumes are rented, we’re not allowed to eat in them and we’re not allowed to do any permanent alterations to them. I have to make sure that people are not eating in costume or messing around in costume or doing anything that could damage the costumes. But it happens anyway, and then I’m in charge of fixing them or delegating fixing tasks to my crew members,” she said. 

Having a costume team to work with was very important to the success of Something Rotten. Fricano stresses that with such a big cast, having multiple pairs of hands working on costumes at once is very valuable. 

Sarah Putorti, a Woodgrove sophomore who is part of the Costumes, Hair, and Makeup Crew, said, “I enjoy working with Rory because she is a good leader and she is very good at instructing me when it comes to things that I don’t know how to do. When it comes to things like sewing, I know what to do, but Rory is good at operating the actual stage and behind-the-scenes with people.”

Costumes are very important to Fricano. Not only do they affect how the crowd sees the show, but they also have an effect on the actors themselves. 

“I like the fact that when I see people on stage I know that I contributed to that,” she said. “Actors tell me, ‘I really like how this costume makes me feel. I really like how it looks on me.’ I like getting to make people feel good about themselves in their costumes.”

Working on costumes has been a wonderful experience for Fricano. She enjoys playing such a big role in the production and improving her skills during every show she works on. 

She said, “I had a great time working on costumes this year and I’m looking forward to what my next couple years with the Grove Theater will bring.”