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Costume thieves undo months of OSF work

ASHLAND — Thieves broke into the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's costume shop and created a serious problem for two soon-to-open plays. The break-in happened sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning, and the thieves took costumes and accessories for plays scheduled to open next month.

"The items seemed so random that it doesn't seem they'd be of value to anybody but us," OSF spokeswoman Amy Richard said. "They're costumes. Cell phones and a digital camera were not taken."

Burglars entered through a window, Richard said.

William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is scheduled to open in previews Feb. 13.

Previews for Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man" begin Feb. 15.

The dress rehearsal for "Macbeth" is Feb. 6, the one for "Music Man" is on Feb. 8. Technical rehearsals began Tuesday night for "Macbeth" while the "Music Man" tech is Feb. 3.

Sound, lights and other technical elements are added to plays at tech rehearsals. Costumes are added for the first time at dress rehearsals.

Items from "Music Man" listed on a police report were two of Professor Harold Hill's jackets, an Indian dress, a constable's jacket, a gray straw "boater" hat, a Panama hat, two black band-member hats and a Wells Fargo cowboy hat.

Stolen from "Macbeth" were a uniform jacket, a wool overcoat, a brown leather jacket, a suede jacket and a black military-style wool overcoat.

"If they were returned anonymously, we wouldn't ask any questions," OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said. "It represents so much work on the part of the costume shop."

Workers at the OSF shop spend months making the costumes for the 11 plays the company presents in repertory each season. Many are one-of-a-kind and amazingly intricate. Some are used again, and others are sometimes sold at auction as part of the OSF's Daedalus Festival, a fundraiser for AIDS/HIV research and treatment.

"We are in shock," said costume department manager Toni Lovaglia, "and making plans as to how to rebuild or acquire these items."

No estimated value was available at press time.

Shakespeare four centuries ago put these noble words into the mouth of Othello the Moor:

"He that is robbed, not wanting what is stol'n, Let him not know't, and he's not robbed at all."

That's well and good, but Othello wasn't looking at two openings in a couple of weeks.

"It's really sad," Richard said.

Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail bvarble@mailtribune.com.