Everyone loves a backstage story, and none so much as the one about the brilliant but unsung talent who finally makes it into the spotlight. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the League of Professional Theatre Women bring that long-deserved moment to 140 of those stories in Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance.
Featuring treasures from the Library's archives, Curtain Call is a multi-media exhibition crackling with creative verve and bursting at the seams with the dazzling works of the little-noted women without whose costume, set, and lighting designs and innovations the show could not have gone on in North America for the past hundred-plus years. This is the stuff that makes the audience gasp in awe. This is the opportunity to meet those responsible for taking our breath away.
Curtain Call will be on view November 17, 2008 through May 2, 2009 in the Library's Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery. Admission is free. Workshops, films screenings, and a full slate of public programs will be scheduled for early in the year. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, is located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. For further information, telephone 212.870.1630 or visit www.nypl.org.
The exhibition was conceptualized and co-curated by award-winning costume designer Carrie Robbins (whose designs for the upcoming Broadway production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas are included in the show) in collaboration with noted performance historian Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Curator of Exhibitions for the Performing Arts Library.
Curtain Call showcases the strong presence and progress of women within a field still dominated by men. In spite of limited opportunities, women designers exerted significant influence on every major artistic movement since 1890: from Caroline Siedle's costume illustrations for The Belle of New York (the 1897 precursor to Guys and Dolls) to Anna Louizos' 2008 Tony®-nominated set design for In the Heights; from the vast array of sketches from the staff designers who devised the never-ending parade of glamorous, exotic, and downright bizarre characters (dancing hotdogs in bowlers, anyone?) who strutted the revue stages of the Hippodrome, the Roxy and the Greenwich Village Follies to the grandeur of Tanya Moiseiwitsch's masks for the Guthrie's House of Atreus; from the Neighborhood Playhouse to the Metropolitan Opera House; the chiaroscuro first moment of modern dance in America to the Golden Age of Broadway and the great regional stages. The exhibition also acknowledges the women artisans and business owners with whom designers collaborate to manifest the magic they devise.
Photos by Peter James Zielinski
Curtain Call at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Jacqueline Z. Davis, The Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Ph. D., Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Curator for Exhibitions, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Jacqueline Z. Davis with Masque of the Red Death costume in Phantom of the Opera (des. Maria Bjornson)
Jacqueline Z. Davis, Beverly Emmons, Heidi Ettinger, Carrie Robbins, and Joan Firestone
East end of the platform/Tutu section. from right -- Othello (Ann Hould-Ward), blue tutu from Kaleidoscope (Holly Hynes), brown tutu ( Rococo Variations , Holly Hynes, yello tutu ( Les Petets Riens , Barbara Matera), brown and gold period gown ( Don Quixote, Hynes)
Masque costumes in Phantom
set model for Avenue Q (Anna Loizos)
Mambo Kings costume (Ann Roth)
Sweet Charity costume (Irene Sharaff)
La Boheme costume (Catherine Martin, for Broadway)
Milky White ( In the Woods revival, Susan Hilferty)
Set model for Spring Awakening (Christine Jones)
Lumiere and Belle ( Beauty and the Beast , Ann Hould-Ward)
Seascape lizard (Catherine Zuber)
Queen Elizabeth I ( Passion , Linda Cho)
Opera costume in M. Butterfly (Robbins)
Masks and sword from House of Atreus (Guthrie Th., Tanya Moiseiwistch)
Lucie of Lammermoor (Zuber)
set model for In The Heights (Loizos)
west end of platform