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Unsung Heroes - Pat, Costume Design

Patricia Spilecki, Costume Designer

What does being a costumer entail?

Getting a sense from what the director(s) want, finding patterns to fit the design ideas/time period, doing research (attending other performances, watching videos, etc.). First I comb through Community Little Theatre's treasure trove of costumes. I shop Goodwills and Salvation Armies across the state looking for the perfect pieces to use or alter. I fabric hunt, visiting Marden’s just about every other day. I go with director(s) to other theater companies to borrow costumes. For Shrek we borrowed/rented from Portland Players and Point Sebago. A big thank you to both organizations for their generosity!

When/How did you learn to sew?

My mother, Julie Landry, taught me when I was young. I think 4th grade is when she "helped" me sew my first outfit. I worked for the theater department in the costume shop at Providence College for a work study job in college and got involved in theater then, albeit, all back stage.

How long have you been involved with CLT?

The first show I costumed for was "To Kill A Mockingbird". I costumed "Spamalot" and helped with a few costumes for "The Crucible" and "Gypsy".

What's life like outside of the theater?

I am the mother of two daughters, Rachel and Becca, who were both heavily involved in both high school and college theater productions. I'm a high school special education teacher at Lewiston High School and an instructor in Lewiston Academy, an afterschool alternative education program. I teach summer school as well, so fitting everything in this summer has been a challenge! I collect vintage clothing and patterns too!

What was the most challenging show you have ever costumed?

Hmmm, toss-up between Spamalot and Shrek. Both have unique challenges and idiosyncrasies. Both needed custom made pieces as audiences expect that.

If you could have dinner with a character from a show, who would it be and why?

Sally Bowles from "Cabaret" She was a strong woman who made her way in the world the best she could, given her circumstances. A second would be Atticus Finch, from "To Kill a Mockingbird', because the character epitomizes for me what it means to be honest and fair regardless of race or economic status.

What's your favorite kind of show to costume? Musicals? Straight-shows? Period pieces?

Period pieces can be fun because there’s so much research to do and the chance to work with vintage clothing and accessories is a thrill. I have had the opportunity to costume a bit of each between college, helping out with Center Stage Ensemble Lewiston High School's theater group, and CLT.

How has being a part of the CLT community affected your life?

I have gotten a chance to meet people who I probably would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Working in the gym as opposed to upstairs has given me an insight into all aspects of theater production beyond just costumes....I like to help out with props when I can!

Do you have any crazy stories from late nights working on at the theater?

For this production, it was experiencing and rescuing “Adam West". Since CLT is in an older building, bats can get in. Before Shrek, I had never seen a bat. Apparently during "Prelude to a Kiss", a bat was seen on the day the actor Adam West passed. In his memory and honor the bat was named after him. I saw "Adam" for the first time on Wednesday, August 2nd when I was working at 11 pm. He flew by a few times. On Thursday, August 3rd I was there working at 5pm and "Adam" flew by several times, about eye level height. I spotted him several times hanging on the walls around the gym. When I was calling it a night, I went to pick up my equipment to leave; "Adam" was on a costume on the bench near where I was working. I picked him up with a plastic bag - he didn't move much, most likely he was very dehydrated. I brought him outside and put him on the ground. I returned for my belongings and a water bottle. Outside again, I poured water into the lid of the water bottle and got close enough to the bat to have it drink some. Before I departed, I left the bottle on its side so Adam could get more water.

Why do you think that community theater is an asset to our communities?

The theater provides so many opportunities for people to share their artistic/performance/musical talents with others. Sadly, many art programs (performance, visual, music) are not available or have limited budgets within school settings. Community Theaters allow for people of all ages to participate and enjoy. Theaters enrich communities. The arts are growing in Lewiston and Auburn. Community Little Theater has been a cornerstone and continues to be a bright example of quality theater.