Anastasia’s Foundation of Fashion

Dallastown graduate Lori Rene Weyant brings costuming to life during this year’s musical production of “Anastasia.”

Anastasia+represents+an+engrossing+adventure+through+chic%2C+and+exquisite+costuming.

Chris Riddle

Anastasia represents an engrossing adventure through chic, and exquisite costuming.

The inspiration for a production like “Anastasia” needed memorable ingenuity.

Dallastown performing arts needed a creative vision to bring Anya’s compelling journey to life through fashion, and 1986 Dallastown graduate Lori Rene Weyant did just that. 

“This is my first year to hold this position. I have been helping with costumes, hair and makeup for many years now, so it was exciting to take on the task as my own responsibility,” Weyant said.

Weyant not only needed her artistic mind, but she needed thorough research to make sure she represented the fashion of the time correctly.

“We tried hard to do our research on the fashion for the show.  We wanted to work within our budget, while staying as true as possible to the fashion of the time and location of the show,” Weyant said. 

Weyant is helping actress Bryn Mortenson get dressed for the production. (Ellie Winslow)

Director Amy Anderson is also focused on the budget.

“We tried to do things inexpensively because Covid took away our shows. We didn’t make much last year with Frozen and Beauty and the Beast being streamed. We just about broke even with those. And for Mamma Mia the year before, we were about to have our production and then Covid hit. We spent a lot of money for that, and we didn’t get to recoup any of it,” Anderson said.

After a drastic two years of performances not coming to fruition, Dallastown came back with the production of Anastasia the musical. Despite their budget, Anderson and producer Jennifer McCleary ironically chose a musical extremely costume heavy. 

Not only was Anastasia focused around a riveting adventure during a haunting time period, but the musical captured the fashion of the time tastefully, making Anastasia’s costuming genuinely special.

“The Romanovs all appear in their white robes, and the girls wear their gorgeous pink dresses. They have magnificent, over the top tiaras. Then the fall of the Romanov empire occurs, so the costumes are all very rough. Act I has a combination of browns, and tans with tattered tears for the costuming of the Russian dissidents. That costuming is whatever the people had left, and whatever they could grab and scrape together once the takeover happened. It is very rough, and it is not really exciting,” Anderson said.

After Act I, the fashion continues to build and become more involved.

“They get to Paris which is filled with fancy gowns. Anya has two beautiful ball gowns. One she wears to the ballet, and one she wears at the end when she declares herself the princess: Anastasia,” Anderson continued.

Senior Ellie Winslow was Weyant’s assistant to help with costuming, makeup, hair, and managing the backstage. Winslow shadowed Weyant, and assisted in finding costumes to truly establish the era. 

The Romanov sisters are wearing elegant pink dresses from the Mini-THON dress drive. (Ellie Winslow)

“When searching for costumes we had to find things that were fun while still matching the show. They needed to be simple enough to not be overwhelming to look at when everyone is on stage at once,” Winslow said.

Weyant and Winslow’s goal was to tell the story of Anastasia. 

“Our goal was to make the performance of the cast appealing to the eye and fun to watch, by being true to the style of the era and sticking to our budget,” Weyant expressed.

And they most certainly did. The contrast between the lavish, trimmed-in-fur Romanov costumes and dirty rags almost intentionally falling off of the peasants was executed remarkably during Act I. 

At the beginning of Act II, we are absorbed by the Paris glamour. Yet, Weyant’s direction wasn’t to recreate the opulent Romanov look, instead the fashion became more cheerful and bright. 

“The clothing became fun. It was the Roaring 20s and the style was very different,” Weyant said.

In order for Weyant to accomplish her vision with the slim budget she had, getting reinforcements became difficult. There were definitely a lot of moving pieces.

Some of the clothes they found for the production were from Community Aid, Salvation Army, and Amazon. However, most were from Dallastown’s storage.

The other costumes were either in storage or rented from the Millersville University Costume Shop,” Winslow said.

Costumes were purchased, or rented, yet some of the money was able to go back to charity.

I love the Dallastown Music program and truly enjoy working with the cast, crew and musicians in the orchestra. The team of Directors are a joy to work with and I am happy to be a part of this organization. ”

— Lori Rene Weyant

 “[Weyant] went into a closet over in the high school, and pulled out 10 to 20 Mini-THON dress drive gowns. She used them and redid hemlines, or put a slit in it, or added something glitzy. She took those costumes and redid them in order to accommodate the needs of the show,” Anderson said. 

By purchasing the dresses from Dallastown Mini-THON, the musical made a donation to Four Diamonds, a non-profit organization which raises money and awareness for childhood cancer

As well as giving back to the community, Weyant was able to support sustainable fashion by making, and altering costumes with her mother.

“My mother Neila Burrows and I designed and fitted the cast. My mother did all of the sewing this year for the costumes we made from scratch, and we both did the alterations. We often take a base dress, or outfit and embellish it to the style that we desire,” Weyant said.

Without all this intensive work, and attention to detail, Anastasia wouldn’t have been such an unforgettable, and sensational production. 

“Our customer Lori Rene Weyant can work miracles,” Anderson said.

And Weyant most certainly fabricated an exquisite production. 

This musical will definitely go down in Dallastown history not only with bewildering talent, but with insightful costuming and fashion.

Despite the past few years withholding Dallastown performing arts’ excellence, this year the musical outdid itself especially amidst the fashion.