The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

July 15, 2013

Woman's keen eye for supplies, skills as a seamstress makes magic on stage

JOPLIN, Mo. — In the belly of Memorial Auditorium, far beneath the stage where actors are rehearsing lines as they make their way from Munchkinland to the Emerald City, three young men are being transformed into Winkies.

"Hold your arm out," said Lisa Quinteros, 41. Although, because she has straight pins in her mouth, it comes out more like, "Hlldd rrr ohm ut."

Surrounded by mounds of cloth in shades of green, actor Austin VanBeclaere complies with her request -- as a regular Pittsburg Community Theatre performer, he's used to the drill.

So is Quinteros. Since she was 17, she has crafted costumes for the theater group, and since 28 has been designing them for Pittsburg State University's theater department. She's not sure how many shows there have been, recalling them by name, not number.

"There was 'Hello, Dolly,' that was my first. And 'Alice in Wonderland.' 'Pippin.' I did 'The Hobbit,' 'Jungle Book,' 'King Stag,'" she said as she turned her attention to picking out pairs of pants for the three Winkies. "A lot. A lot of shows. I don't know how many."

On this night, 16 days until "The Wizard of Oz" opens to a run of five performances, Quinteros sees a steady stream of actors coming in and out of her basement costume shop. Amid the hum of sewing machines operated by volunteers, she frequently checks a wall where small cards -- one for each character in the play -- are tacked. She'll need at least one costume for each, and in many cases, several.

Some will be more challenging than others. The monkeys will fly. A special rig with harnesses being brought in for the show will hoist them above the stage, and they'll need wings to complete the effect.

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