One of a kind costumes: Would you like to be an artichoke?

Whidbey Playhouse actor Meiko Parton models an oversized leprechaun suit from the Playhouse Annex.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Whidbey Playhouse actor Meiko Parton models an oversized leprechaun suit from the Playhouse Annex.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

At Halloween time, the year’s hot movies usually dictate the hottest costumes.

However, volunteers at the Whidbey Playhouse Annex don’t believe you need a department store costume to feel like you’re sitting firmly at the top of the pop culture curve.

In an obscure warehouse just off Goldie Road is the playhouse’s two-story costume rental shop, which is only open with regular hours six days a year. The costumes are often authentic and represent decades of local history.

“What we have is original and offbeat,” costume designer Sheila Ryan said.

The Playhouse Annex contains hundreds of complete costumes, ranging from replicas of dresses from the Roaring Twenties to reproductions of character costumes from recent movies such as “The Genie” from “Aladdin.” Many of the costumes are authentic period clothes.

Volunteer Julia Locke pulled a cape from the collection with a note that read, “owned by my grandmother who was married to a Civil War officer.” It was dated at 1890.

“We really benefit in this community because of people who travel with the military and a lot of retirees who want to clean out their stuff,” Locke said.

The playhouse also boasts over 30 years of plays and musicals, and many of the costumes have appeared onstage at some point. Along with the garb, they have wigs, props, hats, shoes and other add-ons.

An outfit can range from $15 to $50, usually for a weekend-long use. There’s also a minimum $20 deposit, which may be adjusted. For example, a full-piece gorilla suit is nearly impossible to find these days, Locke said.

They say the most requested rentals are typically the pirates, knights and ‘60s attire.

“If you want to do a Brady Bunch reunion, we can make that happen,” Mary K. Hallen said.

There are also those bizarre finds that even surprise the volunteers, such as the giant artichoke costume. It was once used during the bygone Arts and Artichokes Festival at the Oak Harbor Marina, Ryan said.

“This has got to be the weirdest thing we have,” she said.

Although you can’t expect to find the latest Hollywood superhero costume, the clothes are theater quality and you can mix and match costumes for creative combinations.

The Whidbey Playhouse Annex is located at 684 Oak St., off Goldie Road. It’s open Wednesdays and Saturdays until Oct. 26. The times are 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information call 679-7630.

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