Cynthy McCrory says she took to sewing at a very young age, and those seamstress skills have made her a valuable RTG volunteer since 1975. “My mother and two grandmas were wonderful seamstresses,” Cynthy recalls. “And I learned from them. From about the age of 12 I sewed clothes for myself and my sister. Sometimes I use patterns and sometimes I just make things up.”
Cynthy also loved theatre, and she was an usher for the Racine Theatre Guild back when it was at the High Street Theatre. Someone found out she could sew, and asked her to help do wardrobe for Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1975. “After that,” Cynthy says, “I was completely hooked. I loved the other volunteers and the feeling of being a team to put on a show. I went on to do wardrobe for No Sex Please, We’re British (1976). And with the move to the new theatre building on Northwestern Avenue, I helped many volunteers get the new theatre ready. I am very proud that I helped to put up the rigging for the cables, passing the cables up and into the grid. My name is up there in chalk, as all of us who worked on that signed one of the girders.”
Cynthy did wardrobe for The Taming of the Shrew (1976), the first show in the new theatre. Then she branched out from sewing and stage managed, helped with props, was a production stage manager, and “did every job except run lights and serve as an ASM.” A personal favorite was Royal Hunt of the Sun (1984), which she stage managed, a show that was “fun and busy.” She worked on crews for multiple shows each year until 1985, when she took a hiatus from the RTG to raise her two children.
“Norm asked me to do wardrobe for The Sunshine Boys in 2009, and I started volunteering again. Although I mostly volunteer with wardrobe, I’ve also enjoyed working on props, makeup, and in the booth. I am the PSM for this show, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and there is a voodoo doll that is wearing a Snow White costume. I sewed the little doll costume, but I’m not sure if that is really a prop, not wardrobe!”
Cynthy spent 40 years as a pre-school specialist, and now she works part-time with Cops and Kids. But she has plenty of time for volunteering with the RTG, and she can hardly remember all the costumes she has sewn over the years. When pressed to pick out a favorite, she notes Dorothy’s dress in The Wizard of Oz in 1997, the vintage wedding dress for Maria in The Sound of Music (adapted from a donated dress), and the multiple Roman costumes for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (both in 1979 and 2013). She traveled to Europe with the first production of that show and her daughter was in the cast in its second incarnation.
“I’m on the playreading committee this year,” Cynthy says, “and I’ve done that in the past. I’ve served on the board and ushered. The Iliad, The Odyssey and All of Greek Myth in 99 Minutes or Less was one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done. There were so many fast changes back stage, and we all helped with wardrobe, props and makeup.”
Cynthy considers herself a problem solver. “I love the people at the RTG, the creative energy, and the way everyone pulls together to put on a show. I’m glad I’ve found this niche for my sewing skills. Where else would you be called on to whip up two dwarf hats and a Snow White doll costume? I am enjoying being the production stage manager for this show, because I have a good crew, and I can pop in and help with a little sewing here and there.”
Whether Cynthy is sewing urchin clothes for Oliver! or doing alterations on a vintage wedding dress, she is upbeat and cheerful, enjoying using her talents creatively to help the RTG. And we are lucky to have volunteers like her!