Goodspeed's Secret Stash: A Quarter Million Costumes, Assessories
When you enter the nondescript industrial building nestled near the woods off a quiet road in East Haddam, you'll walk into a reception area that looks like any other — with one exception. This one is filled with mannequins dressed as Nora Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard," a glittering top-hatted dancer from "A Chorus Line" and the title character of "Annie."
But just wait.
Walk through one more door in the back of the room and be prepared to gasp and be transported to another world as the eye takes it all in — like the long camera pan in the final scene of "Citizen Kane." It's a vast, 14,000-square-foot, open-aired, two-story warehouse filled with rows and rows of more than 230,000 theatrical costumes and another 20,000 hats, shoes, purses and accessories.
The Cynthia Kellogg Barrington Costume Center is the Home Depot of fantasy with a mile of racks filled with outfits from Goodspeed, Broadway, regional and touring productions.
"This is where costumes go to be revived," says Mark Adam Rampmeyer, costume rental manager since the collection moved to the new facility in 2014. "These costumes, which are very much alive, should be seen by as many people as possible and as often as they can. They're works of art."
Goodspeed rents them out to other theaters, schools, fashion shoots and special events such as fund-raising galas.
Some of the collection's archival value will be on display at The Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, which will present an exhibit largely made up of pieces from the center representing shows from 1900 to the mid '40s, the period that parallels the time the museum was the home of architect Theodate Pope Riddle's parents. It will be on exhibit from Sept. 21 to Jan. 1.