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New York Times February 17, 2016

Every Minute Counts on the Way to Opening Night

         By Tamara Best


‘Shuffle Along’ - Opens April 28 2016


Zoe Pielsticker is slightly bent over a sheet of brown craft paper at Eric Winterling Inc., a costume shop in Manhattan, drawing quick yet meticulous lines with a variety of rulers. Seconds later, she flips her pencil over and the eraser makes the lines that aren’t quite right disappear. She stands up, takes a look, and continues to add and subtract — a few inches here, a few inches there.

The job at hand: translating a pattern to create the bodice for a costume that the designer Ann Roth refers to as

“Floozy.” It’s one of more than 80 costumes commissioned for “Shuffle Along,” the musical that broke racial barriers on Broadway when it first opened in 1921. The Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter are among the stars anchoring the production.

Worn during a dream sequence that reminisces on happier times, the “Floozy” costume features an Edwardian silhouette in teal, royal blue and lilac to add dimension. “I was trying to do turn-of-the-century with a bit of a bustle and flirtatious skirt,” Ms. Roth said of the outfit, which will also feature a headpiece created by Marie Deserto.

Costume making is a multistep process, both science and art, for Ms. Pielsticker, who is an apprentice draper in the shop and specializes in pattern creation and construction.

“You start to get muscle memory,” said Ms. Pielsticker, who has worked on “Kinky Boots,” among other shows. “As you do it more and more, you get an eye for curves, and you know when it’s right.”

After finalizing the measurements on craft paper, she transfers the details to muslin to create a mock-up.

Because fabric can get pricey, muslin offers an affordable way to make changes without ruining a costume. Pushpins hold the pieces in place so that accurate lines can be drawn, then cut. Ms. Pielsticker makes more tweaks; with each snip of her scissors, slivers of excess fabric litter the table.

Later in the week, the actress Erin Moore will have her fitting. Only then will the pattern be cut and an actual costume be constructed.

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