Archive | July, 2011

My Favorite Visit of the Program!

24 Jul

Our class’ visit to William Ivey Long Costumes was by far my favorite visit our class has done thus far in all of our excursions for Elon in NY. I greatly enjoyed the people we met there, especially William and Donny. I also enjoyed looking at the beautiful sketches.

I was extremely impressed by the costumes that they make and the intricacy and creativity with which they are done. It was truly an art form, and as student of the arts, I really enjoyed having the privilege of being able to be up close and personal with the costumes. My favorite things we saw were the “Beautiful Girls Wearing Nothing but Pearls” costumes from The Producers, and the outfit Edna from Hairspray wears in “Welcome to the 60s!” I thought the beaded hat from “Pearls” was especially beautiful! I got a big kick out of it when our professor, Bill, put it on!

I also enjoyed learning about how to take care of delicate clothes from people who really know what they’re talking about. When you really think about how much wear those clothes get being worn in eight shows a week for many months at a time, it’s no wonder they require special care. The vodka-water-fabric softener mixture is something I want to try sometime!

I was also very interested to look into The Lost Colony after hearing them talk so much about it. I looked it up online and found some information on this site…  The show features the story of the 117 men and women whose fate still remains unknown.

The costumes that William designed were again, just beautiful. I definitely want to be able to see the performance at some point.

I think the most profound thing I realized from this visit was the impact of the costumes on a Broadway performance. Whenever I see a show from now on, I will be paying more attention than ever to the costumes the actors are wearing for sure!


Part III of Ethnographic Study: The Flatiron District

17 Jul

Don stood outside The Old Town Bar and looked out into the bustling streets of the neighborhood he called home. His restaurant had not changed since as long as he had been working there since he was a little boy, but the world outside seemed to me moving at lightning speed.


The Old Town Bar was a constant in Don’s life; it was the one thing that never changed. His grandfather had opened the restaurant in 1982, and Don remembered how vividly his grandfather, Peter, used to describe the area and how it had changed over time. After immigrating to America from Germany, The Old Town Bar was the first thing that Peter was proud to call his own in this country. He had worked hard to open the restaurant, and would do anything to make sure it prospered. He had also been in the area long enough to make some observations about the people and how it was changing over time. He would often recount the stories to his grandson, Don while working.

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When the Old Town Bar opened, the area was best known for being a shopping destination for well to do women, called the Ladies Mile. It was commonplace to see women walking down the street shopping in the highest fashions of the day with their friends. They wore bustling dresses and enormous hats that took up the sidewalk.

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It was also the shopping destination of some of the most well known women in America such as Mrs. Grant, the president’s wife. Business flourished and department stores and boutiques were very successful. This also provided good business for the Old Town Bar and its business was thriving as well.

In 1902, another main attraction came to the area.  Don remembered how his grandfather would describe the frenzy that surrounded the construction of the Fuller Building. It was a masterpiece. It was of the beaux-arts style and represented modern architecture during its time. The beautiful concrete details were elegant and reflected the influence of Italian and French architecture, bringing an unmistakable air of sophistication to the area.

Photo taken by Katy DeHoff

Peter would tell Don all about how there was speculation that the building wouldn’t be able to stand. People though that its odd shape would cause it to fall. The building, however proved it was made to last, and it drew even more people to the area.

By the 1910’s, with the recent construction of the Fuller Building, or the Flatiron Building as it was coming to be known, the neighborhood was getting more traffic and attention than ever. Women were shopping even more if that was possible, photographers were snapping pictures of the Flatiron, and more people were venturing into the area than Don’s grandfather had ever seen. The building had made the area the center of the city it felt like. Luckily this was good for business and The Old Town Bar continued to do well.

During the time of prohibition, The Old Town Bar operated as a speakeasy under the name Tammany Hall. The 1920s were an exciting time for Peter and he felt a sense of adrenaline every time he served a drink illegally.

It was around this time that Peter married Don’s grandmother. Soon after, they had a son, who they named David. David grew up in the Old Town bar and came to love it as much as his father. When he was old enough, he officially joined as a partner with him in the business. Unfortunately, however, the 1930s were approaching, which led to the decline of the Flatiron District as a popular neighborhood. With every passing week, more and more business was moving uptown. Stores that used to be filled with women shopping everyday were being abandoned. The district was experiencing a steady decline in population, business and activity.

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As many restaurateurs and shopkeepers closed up, Peter and David were determined to keep the restaurant they loved alive. This meant dealing with slow business and making a lot of cutbacks. In their mind it was worth it though. By the early 1950s, David was starting to think about starting a family of his own. He married in the Spring of 1951 and he and his wife continued to help in the family business. In the Fall of 1953, they were blessed with a son, who they named Donald. The boy grew up just like his father, learning the family business and with a love for the stories about the Old Town Bar and the area. Even though the world outside was changing, the old mahogany bar, which had always been there, had a timelessness about it that gave him comfort. Even the big urinals gave him comfort in that they had never changed.

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When Don’s grandfather died in 1960, and his father a years later in 1968, Don felt more responsibility than ever to keep the Old Town Bar alive. He considered it their legacy. The customers, of whom the majority were regulars during the hard times they were in, gave him comfort and reminded him everyday the allegiance he had to his father and grandfather. He resolved to keep as much of the original furniture as he could a part of the restaurant. Everything was sacred.

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By the age of 20, Don had been living in the area long enough to start making his own observations about the Flatiron District. In the 1960s the area was beginning to be populated mostly by artists who were lured to the area by the low rent prices. The area was not safe, however. Crime was prevalent and it was not safe to walk around at night alone. This era also brought a lot of interesting people into The Old Town Bar. Don learned a lot about the troubles of life and of being an artist from his customers. He watched people struggle with drug addiction and even experienced the loss of the friends he made to drugs.

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As the years went by, the Flatiron District became more and more popular, which greatly excited Don. The neighborhood was getting a resurgence of life, mainly due to the new restaurants, bars, and clubs, which were popping up all over the district. The Old Town Bar, which had experienced a great deal of hardship, was back in full swing by 1985.

It was also exciting for Don to witness the area in which his family had always lived be declared a historic district officially in 1989.

At this point, Don was able to start a family of his own too; it felt good to begin to educate his own son about the family business and to share it with the people he loved. He hoped that one day, his son Jack, would be able to carry on the family business. The constant rotation of Wall Street Traders, college kids, and Irish immigrants who visited the bar kept the business interesting and made it something he would always enjoy doing.

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The Flatiron District had been through a lot, and Don would always feel a personal connection and tie to the area. He could never imagine living anywhere else in the world.

Wicked Fun

17 Jul

Tonight, our class went and saw Wicked with Bill Webb. Even though I have seen the musical five times now, the story and the production never cease to amaze me. I think it still has the same enchanting power over theatre goers as it did when it opened. It defintely lives up to Ben Brantley’s first review in the New York Times. Here’s the link to the article.

Photo taken by Katy DeHoff

As cliché as it may sound, I always get chills before seeing the play. Something about it is just magical. The breathtaking voices of the leads, the humor, the political satire, and magnificent costumes impress me every time I see it.

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For me, Wicked also holds a special place in my heart because every time I’ve seen it in the last four years, I have been at a different place in my life. I think it’s interesting to think back to all the times I’ve seen it and consider how far I’ve come. When I saw it for the first time, I was in New York with my parents.

Photo taken by Katy DeHoff

I remember falling in love with everything about the production and how special it was to share it with them, especially my mother. A year later, when I saw it with my father, my uncle, my aunt and my cousin, I had been through the painful loss of my mother. I was still grieving at that time, but nevertheless, it’s a special memory.

Photo taken by Philip DeHoff

When I saw Wicked the next time, a few months later, I had the privilege of sharing it with my entire High School senior class on our senior trip, an experience I’ll never forget.

The next time I saw Wicked was last fall, with my father, his fiancé, and her daughter.

Photo taken by Philip Dehoff

Our trip to New York was fun, and I could see how far I had grown and developed emotionally since the first time I saw the play.

Finally, after seeing Wicked again tonight, I can say yet again that my mind is boggled by the changes that have taken place in my life in the past four years. I am in a different place even than where I was in the fall, and I am truly happy.

Since being in New York, not only have I grown, but so has my appreciation for theatre. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing other shows such as ChicagoMemphis, and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. They have all impressed me and shown me the power live theatre has to create a magical and transforming experience.