For a majority of the year The Portland Civic Theater Guild puts on a reading at the Old Church the first Tuesday of the month. This is in part because local actress Lannie Hurst spearheaded a movement in the 1960s to save the leaky Old Church from demolition. It's such a beautiful example of American Gothic architecture with all it's little details, that I can't imagine it's paint peeling and people seriously considering taking it down. Last week we discussed Lannie Hurst, her wedding dress and her contributions to saving the Old Church. These photos were taken on an excursion to see The Guild in 2013. It was a beautiful day and I took the opportunity to be photographed in the Lannie Hurst Memorial Parlour.
I wore a 1957 reproduction Butterick B4513 pattern dress I made to wear to Doug and Mary's wedding nearly a decade ago. I made it for a smaller me, but the back half of the waist is elastic and the bias binding that binds the underarms as well as the front and back of the bodice tie into straps wherever you like, making for a very adjustable fit. I tie them over my bra straps to keep from having to wear a long line strapless bra in the heat. This dress is great because it is simple to make and with a properly sized belt, it can fit a variety of my sizes.
This was a quick and easy dress that I highly recommend. I used a poly Charmeuse by Hi-Fashion Fabrics that was made in 2003. It was left over from my late 1990s-early 2000s addiction to buying yardage at the monthly 40% off fabric sale at Fabric Depot. I whipped this out in a hurry using many shortcuts as I often do for clothing I am making for myself. I didn't cut out the sides of the circle skirt, only the waist leaving the selvages in tact for two reasons. Beyond saving time not cutting, the selvage serves as a finished edge that needn't be serged, pinked or otherwise dealt with. It is also printed with the year the fabric was manufactured so in the future, it will be easy for people to tell this is a reproduction dress and not true vintage. I also did a quick rolled hem with my serger. This usually saves me from having to add length to a pattern. This dress always gets lots of compliments from friends and strangers alike. I think it's the bold chrysanthemum print in black and red on a creamy white background. A full skirt always garners a good deal of attention.
Before the reading, ladies of The Guild serve coffee and cookies and socializing occurs. Please note the thoughtful comedy and tragedy vases on the table. We caught them setting up, before all the action begins.
The lights are dimmed to indicate the show is about to start and we all shuffle off to grab a seat in the pews.
Readings are preformed in front of this magnificent organ on a stage where music stands and microphones are set up. The performance we saw was an edited version of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. A cast of four. Douglas Webster, Chrisse Roccaro, Kurt Raimer and Debbie Hunter.
As I recall, the opened with Madeleine, a peppy number filled loquacious lyrics. "Madeleiene's my Christmas tree, she's America to me, I know that she's too good for me." If you're a Françophile like myself and a musical lover, I highly suggest you take in this show any time you're lucky enough to find it being preformed. But it's not all fun and games. Recently a dear friend of mine was discussing how sometimes she like to unwind from the pressures of preforming with a good cry. This one about Les Vieux from the 1975 Jacques Brel movie does it for me everytime.
I'm always extra excited to see people we know performing and I was delightfully surprised to see long time customer, Debbie Hunter.In a charming 1950s Mexican cotton skirt with sequins.
There's a lot of socializing afterwards where we are introduced to new people...
And reunited with old friends. Debbie's Mother-In-Law is Miss Patty of Romper Room. We purchased and sold her 1959 wedding gown complete with a snap shot of her dress which you can see in it's Etsy listing. We were all pleased we got the same outfit color coding memo.
Mother Dear: Prop Comic. Give my Mom a knife and fork and she'll make them into a candlestick phone and create six to ten minutes of material in a Chaplin like manner. A checker at the grocery store recently turned off his register and refuse to ring up Mother Dear until she explained to him why she always looked so happy. She was a bit taken aback. I pointed out that I don't think people are very good at being happy and don't know how to do it. We decided it pays to have a good sense of humor.
The staircase at The Mallory is tremendous and always reminds me of a scene in Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn as bookworm turned model by photographer Fred Astaire. The camera couldn't catch me coming down the stairs but we did get a shot showcasing the tremendous volume of the skirt.
Obviously, we're fans of the May Musical. Perhaps you'll join us this year? They are so delightfully old fashioned at The Guild that you may purchase your tickets at the door or mail a check to the address listed at the above link. Come and see some of this amazing architecture for yourself!