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Friday, November 11, 2011


(Pic by William Charlton-Perkins: Milliners Elaine Landers (right) and Cecilia Linderboom with some of the hats to be worn in “Cinderella”)

Article on the Playhouse Costume Wardrobe by Latoya Newman. (Courtesy of Tonight)

Preparations in the build-up to the very first staging in Africa of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Cinderella at The Playhouse later this month have led to something of a reunion for the ladies of the Wardrobe Department.

What once used to be a floor bustling with activity back in the day, has over the years seen it whittled down to just a handful of staff due to budget cutbacks from the past that led to retrenchments. But while the ladies who are the lifeblood of the Wardrobe Department may be gone, they've not been forgotten.

It is big projects, like Cinderella (with a total of about 50 on and off stage cast members) that lead to opportunities for the former ladies of the Wardrobe Department to come take up their needles and take on the mammoth task of making these extravagant costumes.

Iris Nadas, head of Wardrobe, said with around 35 characters in Cinderella, they are producing between two to four costumes per character, depending on who it is. "We have 10 ladies on our team who had been seamstresses for The Playhouse for many years. They are specialists in their fields, with our oldest worker being 76-years-old."

And that young lady goes by the name of Elaine Landers, who hardly resembles a day past 50, I'd say.

Seated and concentrating deeply on a hat she'd been working on, I almost felt bad to have to disturb the milliner for an interview, but after her warm polite smile offered before answering my questions, it was like conversing with a friend.

Asked what excited her most about her job, she smiled: "Just to be able to look at a design and see if you can make it and then try to make it... and of course the ladies here are so beautiful to work with," she said, cracking a joke, before she continued to explain her history at the Playhouse, "... my sister and I worked at a hat factory in Briardene, putting trimmings on the hats. I joined The Playhouse in 1982 when it was still in Melbourne Road. This has been my entire career, and it is a beautiful place to work in," she offered, before returning to her craft. – Latoya Newman

Cinderella is directed by Ralph Lawson and runs in the Playhouse Opera from November 26 to December 31, 2011, and stars Nondumiso Tembe as Cinderella with Lisa Bobbert, Clare Mortimer, Ryan Flynn and Krystle Temmerman. Booking is at Computicket on 0861 915 8000, or online at For block bookings at discounted ticket prices, call the Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540 (office hours).