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July 29, 2005

Retro usher costumes are a hit

Volunteers re-create Golden Age of movies

Record-Eagle staff writer

      TRAVERSE CITY - Some people smiled and others laughed outright as they entered the State Theatre for the showing of "The Ax."
      Volunteers dressed in antique usher jackets took their tickets for the 1 p.m. showing Thursday.
      "The older crowd especially enjoys it because they remember it," said Liz Maxey, 19, of Traverse City, who wore the maroon jacket and hat with gold trim at the theater. "It's cute. I like it."
      The State Theatre is recreating old-fashioned costumes and traditions of early-20th-century movie theaters during this week's Traverse City Film Festival.
      Volunteers not only served as ushers and bathroom attendants, but as candy girls - carrying boxes filled with candy and concessions to sell to movie-goers.
      "We decided to design costumes for them in kind of the retro style, with the hats and the jackets," said Timothy Hall, venue manager at the State Theatre.
      The State Theatre itself recently has been renovated and reopened to show films for the first time in years. The costumes enhance the old-fashioned movie theater experience, said Breanne Russell, 21, of Traverse City. She designed all of the costumes for the festival.
      "I've been sewing since I was 13," said Russell, who moved to Traverse City from Palo Alto, Calif., where she lived for 11 years. "I design a lot of my own clothes. So I volunteered to jump right into this project."
      The theater had some usher jackets, which Russell used to craft patterns to make more. She also worked on candy-girl jackets and pillbox hats.
      People have been telling the volunteers how much they enjoyed their costumes, said Addie Semer, 20, of Traverse City, who worked as an usher.
      "It's going to be great," Russell said. "People are just going to come in and smile. It's going to be that extra little step to make it more enjoyable."

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