Crucible Sheffield: I visited costume room to try iconic outfits and see John Simm and Joseph Fiennes gear

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I took a tour of the costume department at Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, ahead of big sale at famous venue

Over the years, The Crucible Theatre has seen some of the biggest names in entertainment tread its boards.

Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi and Joseph Fiennes are among those who have appeared at the theatre over the years, and over that time they’ve created a pretty hefty selection of costumes.

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Now, they are selling a load of those off in a sale on Saturday (May 18).

I visited The Crucible’s costume department, to meet the team who create those costumes, and to see and try on some of the more spectacular costumes that they are selling off.

Reporter David Kessen tries on the frog costume from The Good Person of Szechwan. Photo: David Kessen, National World
Reporter David Kessen tries on the frog costume from The Good Person of Szechwan. Photo: David Kessen, National World
Reporter David Kessen tries on the frog costume from The Good Person of Szechwan. Photo: David Kessen, National World | National World

The department itself lies in the basement at the famous theatre at Tudor Square. Full of material and sewing machines, the busy team put together costumes for the full range of shows, from Shakespeare to sci fi.

As they prepared for Saturday’s sale, Debbie Gamble, head of wardrobe, showed me some of the costumes that they were putting up for sale - and gave me the chance to try one on for size.

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The costume she suggested was a giant frog outfit. It was created by her team last year for their production of The Good Person of Szechwan. After all their hard work, it only appeared on stage for a few minutes each night. She was pleased to see it getting some attention.

Debbie Gamble with a costume from White Christmas. Photo: David Kessen, National WorldDebbie Gamble with a costume from White Christmas. Photo: David Kessen, National World
Debbie Gamble with a costume from White Christmas. Photo: David Kessen, National World | National World

It looked fantastic. After the wardrobe team helped me into it, I could hardly see out, but in the mirror I thought I looked like Kermit out of The Muppets. I would not want to wear it for too long though. It was hot, and my sympathies went out to those sporting mascots who wear giant costumes with big furry heads!

With that heavy head, it was quite tough to get it on and off, and there was a chin strap to keep the head still once it was on. It was definitely a two person job,

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It was one of a number of truly unique outfits on the clothes rails. Also there was a rat costume from the same show. Most of them looked a sight easier to put on than the frog!

Some of the costumes had celebrity links. For example, a thick grey coat with its own cape was worn by the big name actor John Simm, who appeared in Hamlet at the Crucible in 2010.

And fans of Joseph Fiennes, the star of the film Shakespeare in Love, will be able to buy the trousers he wore on stage at the Crucible in Edward II, in 2001.

Kate Harrison shows off John Simm's coat from Hamlet. Photo: David Kessen, National WorldKate Harrison shows off John Simm's coat from Hamlet. Photo: David Kessen, National World
Kate Harrison shows off John Simm's coat from Hamlet. Photo: David Kessen, National World | National World

Some of the costumes look like they are out of science fiction. For instance, a sparkly little number which was created for White Christmas, which was worn as a spoof of a 1950s advert, carrying the word Oxydol, a fictional washing powder. There is even an accompanying headpiece, with plastic ‘bubbles’ stuck to it.

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Then there are the beautiful historical costumes. Debbie explained that one of them was created for a production of Pride and Prejudice, set in Georgian times. It was created from a sari. and worn by the actress Caroline Bingley. Colleague Kate Harrison added: “It was very glamorous, high end, and was worn by one of the richer characters in it.”

The team think people nowadays will feel that it looks like something out of the Netflix drama Bridgerton, set in the same period of history.

Caroline Bingley's dress out of Pride and Prejudice at the Crucible is one o the item's for sale, pictured here with wardrobe team member Kate Harrison. Photo: David Kessen, National World.Caroline Bingley's dress out of Pride and Prejudice at the Crucible is one o the item's for sale, pictured here with wardrobe team member Kate Harrison. Photo: David Kessen, National World.
Caroline Bingley's dress out of Pride and Prejudice at the Crucible is one o the item's for sale, pictured here with wardrobe team member Kate Harrison. Photo: David Kessen, National World. | National World

Another was taken from the Wild West musical, Annie Get Your Gun. worn by the actress and singer AJ Casey. for a scene involving a ball. Kate added: “It’s in beautiful condition. AJ was very good with her costumes!”

Some of the items, however, have already been snapped up. Debbie said a local theatre group has bought up a set of costumes from The Wizard of Oz!

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The costumes sale will be held at the Crucible and open to the public on Saturday, May 18.

Hats, shoes and accessories will also be included in the sale, with prices beginning from £1, offering a wide range of items for all budgets.

Debbie added: “We are excited to share some of the treasures we’ve kept in the theatre over recent years, and what better way to welcome the public into our building than with a clothing sale.

“With vintage stores and charity shop fashion becoming ever so popular, particularly with the high student residence in the city, we wanted to offer the chance for people to discover unique fashions that won’t be found anywhere else.

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“As well as everyday clothing such as jeans, dresses and coats, we have plenty on the other end of the scale - including a full frog costume which would be great at a festival! There are a range of items suitable for both on stage and off, so we welcome everyone to have a rummage and find some hidden gems.”

The sale will be held in the Crucible Rehearsal Room from 10am - 4pm. A priority period of an hour will be granted to Centre Stage and Prestige Members, before doors open publicly, from 9am - 10am. The event is not ticketed, so doors will be open to the public to come in and browse.

Sheffield Theatres will use the funds raised to maintain the wardrobe store house in the Crucible, and enable the creation of more bespoke costumes for future productions.

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