Broadway Wardrobe Master Robert Guy has made a donation of costumes and wardrobe items to the Department of Theatre and Dance at Northwestern State University.
Guy grew up in Anacoco and attended Northwestern State in the 1980s. He has been wardrobe supervisor for three dozen Broadway plays including Tony Award winners “Company,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Come from Away” and “Gypsy” and “The Rocky Horror Show.” The shows he has worked on featured stars including Patti Lupone, Chita Rivera, Tom Hanks, Courtney B. Vance, Liza Minnelli and many more. Guy was wardrobe supervisor for nearly 40 touring and off-Broadway shows. Guy reconnected with the program when his niece Elizabeth Guy was hired as costume shop manager at NSU.
Many of the items have been accumulated by Robert Guy over the years. Some were used in “Company,” which recently closed.
“I am sending items that would hopefully be used in a university theatre department,” said Robert Guy. “Budgets are usually tight so I thought this would be a great way to find a new home for a lot of these items that are normally thrown away.”
Professor of Costume Design Jessica Parr said NSU is lucky to receive this wardrobe donation.
“A lot of people might not know what a wardrobe crew does,” said Parr. “They are the behind the scenes crew that cares for a show’s costumes, repairs, and replaces garments as they wear out. They deal in the less glamorous theatre activities like laundry and organization. A good wardrobe crews makes a show look effortless. All the actors show up at the right time, looking perfectly dressed, and perfectly pressed. At the Broadway level, that includes every aspect of costume down to their tights and undergarments.”
Parr said the donation is two-fold for the theatre department.
“It is easy to see the financial value $2,000 worth of brand-new pantyhose brings to our theatre. However, it’s also an amazing opportunity for our students to observe how a top of the line professional theatre operates a long-term Broadway run,” said Parr. “NSU’s productions run for one or two weeks. It is beneficial for our wardrobe students to see how much long-term planning goes into a Broadway production.”
Elizabeth Guy said her uncle Robert had a huge influence on her career choice.
“I remember growing up believing that he had the most fascinating and exciting job! I was always so fascinated by the tales he would tell when he would visit home,” said Elizabeth Guy. “I was always so excited to hear about any updates or new stories that he would tell my grandfather who was his brother.”
Elizabeth Guy said when she was young, her uncle’s job was a mystery to her and her imagination ran wild thinking of “this amazing, glamourous, star-studded career.”
“It is so awesome to be in his field now as an adult and working in the costume shop,” said Elizabeth Guy. “I have learned so much about what it is to be a wardrobe supervisor and to run a costume shop and to work several theatrical productions. I now know that it isn’t all fun and whimsy. It is hard work, dedication, long hours, lost sleep and craziness; but to me, it is still amazing and glamourous.”
Elizabeth Guy said learning more about the profession hasn’t “dulled the magic” for her.
“It instead has given me an appreciation for all the work he did behind the scenes, behind the glitz and glamor, behind the tales told to a very imaginative six-year-old little girl,” she said. “I am so thankful that he took the chance on his career and left our little hometown to go on to have a truly awe-inspiring career. He is an inspiration to me still to this day. He is truly an icon.”
Robert Guy remembers his time at Northwestern State as being eventful. A building renovation in the mid 80s created a new costume shop.
“The costume shop had just been created in the basement and then had experienced a devastating flood,” said Guy. “There was no one on staff to handle any kind of costume design. So, I became the student put in charge of starting the cleanup and organization of the basement space.”
Guy was cast in NSU’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” A few months later, he was hired to be the live theatre director at Fort Polk. That put him on the start to a career that led to Broadway.
He said he looks forward to visiting NSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance and visiting with current students.
Broadway Wardrobe Master Robert Guy, top, with Tony-Award-winning actress Patti LuPone. Guy has made a donation of costumes and wardrobe items to the Department of Theatre and Dance at Northwestern State University.