Bringing the Past to Life: Costumes in The Music Man

A look inside the power of costumes in Mitty’s final play of the year.


The curtain drew to a close. The performance had been an exhilarating experience for the cast, crew, orchestra, and audience. From the fast-paced dance numbers to the plotline of the story and the spectacular costumes, The Music Man certainly left its mark on the Mitty community.

Among the many aspects of the performance that made it a success were the flamboyant costumes that gave the audience a window into the early 20th century of the United States. For the show’s director, Mrs. Amanda Folena, the array of dresses, suits, and student-created hairstyles “immediately grounds the audience in time and place!” While Mrs. Folena does share her perspective on costume ideas with the designers, she encourages creative freedom and lets her thoughts gently influence the designers’ skillful work.

It would be all but impossible not to notice the wide variety of pastel colors, which increased in vibrancy throughout the production, displayed throughout the citizens of River City. According to freshman John Routh, the progression of brighter colors “showed the town spirit being brought to life through Harold Hill,” a self-proclaimed music professor with the goal of creating a kids’ band in River City, Iowa.

Behind the stage, the production’s costume crew, under the direction of Mrs. Noreen Styliadis, was in motion every minute of the performance, working to fix imperfections and assist with costume changes. Many costumes were built from scratch, giving the team the freedom to refine the unique 1910s style, while some were rented or bought. Routh remarked, “Noreen worked magic on every single piece of clothing to make sure we were true to the time period.” John, who played Banker Oliver Hix, enjoyed getting to wear a variety of perfectly-fitting suits that added to the ambiance of certain scenes and songs. He particularly recalls his experience in the opening number, where he played an unnamed salesman: “I really felt true to my character in that moment even though the costume was only on stage for one number.”

The impact of the costumes was felt perhaps just as equally by those watching the show. Senior Thi Nguyen, who attended a performance, definitely sensed the special charm that the costumes added to the show, as well as the joy that the cast members had wearing them. She reminisced, “When the curtain call began, the entire cast in matching band uniforms, I couldn’t help but grin at the shared contentment and appreciation for the arts felt by everyone in the Kinkade.”