Christy Greenwood founded Theatre Garage with friend Tessa Stamp in 2009 while working as a wardrobe technician at Citadel Theatre, in part because of her love of costume creation, in part because she didn’t want to see the huge inventory of costumes from Shirley Potter’s go to waste after it closed.
Today, the store runs year-round, staffed by local costume and makeup experts (most staff work at Theatre Garage in between theatre production gigs), using local products and manufacturing their own line of latex prosthetics to provide the costume-wearing public with professional-quality clothing, makeup, accessories and advice (the company did all the costumes for DARK at Fort Edmonton Park). “We are so rooted in Edmonton and love making people’s costumes look great,” Greenwood says.
Heading into Halloween, we talked with Greenwood about how you can take advantage of Theatre Garage’s expertise to make your costume the best it can be.
“We often talk people out of big mascot costumes. They can be really cool, and make an impact at the party, but you will not have fun in one of those costumes. People who are professional mascots, for sporting and other events, they train to wear those costumes, because they’re crazy uncomfortable. And if you have a mascot head, you will not wear that head the whole time, so you’ll set it down. If you’re at a house party, that’s probably not a problem. But if you’re at a big public party, the head could go missing, or be accidentally destroyed.”
“Be very careful about the toxins you use. Don’t spray-paint your costume. The items you use outdoors, the things you find in your garage or use on cars — they should not be used on your body! But it happens all the time, so I’m always preaching that whenever you think of painting fabrics, think of acrylic paints and get non-toxic supplies.
“I usually recommend water-based makeup for kids, because when you want to take it off, you don’t need special cleansers. You could just put them in the tub with regular soap and water and wash it off. And it stays on better, so there’s way less chance of it transferring to your couch, the walls, and everything else. And Kryolan makeup is totally safe — I’ve had people paint their baby’s face and it’s not a problem.
“If you are going to use FX makeup, do a quick allergy test for latex first: Just take a little dab of liquid latex, put it on the inside of your wrist and give it 20 minutes. If you’re all good, then go ahead. But you don’t want to find out that you have an allergy to latex when your face is covered with it.”
“Every year since we’ve opened, Halloween is getting scarier in terms of costumes. It used to be more cute and fun, but every year, Halloween is kind of getting back to its roots. People are definitely doing scary costumes, even the younger kids.
“For many of our customers, the clothing part of their costume is secondary to the makeup. So we’ve got more people at the makeup counter, learning how to do a zombie look, or how to glue prosthetics on and remove them. Now, when people walk in and ask, ‘Do you have any blood?’ we say, ‘Yeah, we got 20 different kinds, what do you need?’ We’ve got liquid blood, powder blood — do you need old blood, or fresh blood? We even sell makeup to first responders when they do training and have to simulate accidents, so it’s just a normal day here.
“Here’s the number one advice I give to DIY people: Yes, you can make it. So many people assume they can’t make the costume they want because they don’t have experience or it’s too complicated. But there’s always a simpler way to do it than what people generally think. And we always can find a way to put something together. With a little bit of work and expert advice, there’s always a solution. So have a good time, be safe, be courteous, and have a great Halloween!”