Buretta costumes ‘Orlando’ in Boston

Apr 06, 2017
Oceanside High School alum Maxine Buretta is costuming the Suffolk University production of Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando.”

Boston — With about 100 yards of material, access to 15 actors, extensive research and a remarkable work ethic, Maxine Buretta, a 2013 graduate of Oceanside High School in Rockland, has created all the costumes for Suffolk University's production of “Orlando.”

The Sarah Ruehl play, based on the Virginia Woolf novel and produced by Suffolk’s theater department in collaboration with the Lyric Stage Company, will be presented one weekend only.

Performances are Thursday and Friday, April 6 and 7, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 8, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 9 at 3 p.m. at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre, 525 Washington St. For tickets, call (617) 573-8282 or visit moderntheatre.com.

The show features 18 characters played by 15 student actors; travels through five centuries and several countries; and includes a gender change. This necessitates many costume changes; while some attire was built on stock clothing, 35 costumes had to be built from scratch by Buretta, who has been sewing since her grandmother taught her to thread a needle.

“This would be a senior thesis project in a conservatory or even in a master’s program,” said theater professor Richard Chambers, who first met Buretta when she took his introductory design class.

While Suffolk’s theater department does not offer a costume major, it has supported Buretta’s development as a costumer from the beginning. The department’s Director of Production Jim Bernhardt hired costume designer Leslie Held as a mentor for Buretta early on, and Held was brought back to work closely with her on “Orlando.”

Buretta came to the project in a roundabout way, having entered Suffolk as a psychology major with a minor in theater. She had made costumes for high school productions and, as a Suffolk freshman, outfitted the actors in a student showcase. By the end of that first year, her friendship group was in the theater department.

“I discovered that is where my heart is,” said Buretta, who will graduate with the Class of 2017 as a theater major with a psychology minor.

Buretta has spent 40-plus hours a week since the end of January on the project, working with Held all day Thursdays through Sundays. During her college career, Buretta has worked on shows outside of Suffolk and will continue working with her mentor after graduation. She sees many possibilities in Boston’s lively theater, dance and fashion scene.

“I love the theater in general, so doing costumes had lot of opportunity for growth,” she said.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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