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Theatre wardrobe’s new, familiar faces

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

Greytown’s favourite wardrobe department is under new management, as one entertainer passes the torch to another.
Jean Mullany retired from her post just over a month ago, leaving the responsibility of looking after the Greytown Little Theatre’s extensive wardrobe to her assistant Rita Ann Penhale-Cashmore.
Mrs Penhale-Cashmore said her predecessor had given so much to the theatre.
“She did all sorts of things.”
“She was like an impromptu theatre manager.”
Taking over the role of maintaining all the costumes is no small task, with hundreds of items lining the walls of the rooms that houses the clothes.
The wardrobe includes jackets, shirts, dresses, ponchos, tuxedos, dress shoes and a myriad of hats.
“It felt like a huge responsibility because she had put so much of herself into the wardrobe,” Mrs Penhale-Cashmore said.

The pair love helping people get dressed up for special events.
The pair love helping people get dressed up for special events.

“It was very much her baby.”
“She was trusting me to look after it.”
Mrs Penhale-Cashmore said she had always had a passion for theatre.
“My father used to say I did my first acting role when I was four and I never stopped.”
She loved the costumes that helped bring a character to life.
“When I retired I could spend more time in theatres,” she said.
“This was the one where I was really taken with the wardrobe.”
The wardrobe serves a dual purpose, storing stage costume for shows alongside items that can be hired by the public. Knowing the difference between the two is essential.
“You can get away with things that are not in fantastic condition on stage,” Mrs Penhale-Cashmore said.
Sometimes that is the desired effect, not everyone has brand new clothes and the character might need tattered clothes to show he is down on his luck, she said.
“What you can get away with on stage is not what you can get away with walking down the street.”
When Mrs Penhale-Cashmore started helping at the theatre about nine months ago and found she loved helping people transform for special events.
They had someone come in who wanted to go to an ocean party, he wanted to dress up as a mermaid, she said.

There are hundreds of items in the wardrobe.
There are hundreds of items in the wardrobe.

They found something that could be hitched up to his armpits and helped him look “fantastic”.
Mrs Penhale-Cashmore has been joined in the store by Victoria Ross, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film.
Mrs Ross loves the style of the 1920s and keeps a watchful eye on op shops for things she can add to the wardrobe.
She said they have “something for everyone” in the store.
The pair agree that taking care of the theatre’s wardrobe makes you more aware of the little things.
“The little details can make something okay or fantastic,” Mrs Penhale-Cashmore said.
The store is open to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10am – 1pm.





  1. Well done Jean for all the years you have spent with the Little Theatre.
    I did so mich enjoy your company when I was with the Theatre
    Good luck & best wishes in your retirement

    Kevin Kerr

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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