Jamie knows why picking up a charity shop bargain can be murder

Where do you go to find a stylish outfit to suit a serial killer? You could always start at the chain of St Luke’s Hospice charity shops!
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James Easter is one of the costume department team for Sheffield’s Easy Street Theatre Company, voted best Youth Theatre in the North East 2020 and 2021 and offering Sheffield's young creative talent the finest professional-grade theatrical training.

The talented young actors and singers had a major hit with their revival of Phantom of the Opera at Sheffield Cathedral last spring.

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And they will be returning to the historic city centre venue from May 1 to 4 with a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical tale of gothic romance and murder, Sweeney Todd.

James Easter volunteers at the St Luke's Broomhill vintage storeJames Easter volunteers at the St Luke's Broomhill vintage store
James Easter volunteers at the St Luke's Broomhill vintage store

For James, that means starting to source some of the costumes and props that will add extra atmosphere to the dark story of the notorious Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

And as a regular volunteer at the St Luke’s Hospice Broomhill vintage shop, he knows the best place to start the search.

“Easy Street has quite an extensive costume department and we have lots of stuff from productions over the years that we can adapt and re-use as we do like to work with what we’ve got,” he explained.

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“We like to use our imagination and creative flair wherever possible but if we’re looking for something fresh and different a charity shop like the St Luke’s Broomhill vintage store is the perfect place to start the search.

“You’ll come across something and you’ll buy it straight away because if you don’t use it for this show you’ll want it for the next - and you know that if you go back later somebody else will have bought it.”

James’s eye for a stage bargain comes from a lifetime of being involved in theatre - he has worked on shows at Sheffield’s Lyceum and Crucible theatres and with some of Sheffield’s leading community theatre companies.

“I’m very much a backstage person - I only end up going on stage if I get caught up in somebody’s costume during a quick change and get dragged on by mistake,” he laughs.

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He’s just finished working on Easy Street’s production of Queen hit We Will Rock You and is now looking out for those special purchases that will add extra atmosphere to Sweeney Todds.

“I’ve worked on shows where something like 90 per cent of things have come from charity shops,” he says.

“The St Luke’s Vintage shop, where I volunteer, is really good if you’re looking for period pieces and I’ll be looking up for things that fit in with Sweeney Todd’s Penny Dreadful and Steam Punk vibe.

“It’s also nice to be able to support a charity like St Luke’s and shopping with them is all about the reduce, re-use and recycle ethos, which is what Easy Street is about too.

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“You’re be looking for a special prop or a really unusual costume piece, you put it to the charity shop gods - and they provide.”

For more information or to book seats for Sweeney Todd at Sheffield Cathedral visit https://stagestubs.com/easy-street-theatre-company-2/sweeney-todd-the-demon-barber-of-fleet-street

To find out more about volunteering with St Luke’s Hospice visit stlukeshospice.org.uk/volunteer/how-to-apply