Jack Kaltenbach '18 working in the costume shop located in Griffiths Arts Center

Tucked Away

St. Lawrence Costume Shop

Audrey Lane ’19

Tucked away in the basement of Griffiths Arts Center, the costume shop remains a mystery to many Laurentians. Unless a current or former student is part of a theater or dance performance, few have had any exposure to the textile terrarium.

Jack Kaltenbach ’18, a student employee in the costume shop estimates that only 5 percent of students know about it, and most first-time visitors remark that they had no idea it even existed. “Even the people in the arts don’t know about it,” he says, Kaltenbach has worked in the costume shop since the beginning of his freshman year in 2014. Now a senior, he has four years of experience under the costume shop supervisor, Selina French. In addition to running St. Lawrence’s operation, French is a costume designer who has worked on professional productions and presents workshops in costume design for events such as the Northern New York Theater Conference. 

The costume shop is a full-service operation that designs, creates, alters, and mends costumes for the St. Lawrence performing arts programming, however what many people don’t know is that the shop also lends costumes to students and community members for academic projects. Anyone interested in borrowing a costume as part of a class, independent study, presentation, or research just needs to fill out form. French and her team of student workers will even help students research costumes and fashion history, in order to ensure historical accuracy of the garments being used by students and faculty for their classes. 

“My favorite part of the job is accommodating a variety of different people such as students from Acting 101 or community actors with the community theater troupe, The Grass River Players,” Kaltenbach says. “My least favorite is measuring students and actors for costume dimensions. It’s a very up close and personal experience.” 

Overall, it’s a “very relaxed environment,” Kaltenbach says. He explains that the shop employees often watch Jeopardy together while they work. Moreover, he encourages students to come down and visit. “We’re here. Come on down, borrow a costume.” The costume shop is a resource open to discovery.