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Alvin Colt

Costume designer outfitted over 50 Broadway shows

May 06, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Alvin Colt, a Tony-winning costume designer whose work spanned more than 60 years of theater from "On the Town" to the "Forbidden Broadway" revues, has died at 92.

Colt died Sunday at Roosevelt Hospital in New York, said Susan Noack, his niece.

"Alvin Colt was a huge icon in the world of theatrical design," said designer Bob Mackie. "He had great style and humor in his professional and private life. He was a gentleman, and he certainly was a hero of mine."

Colt's first show was "On the Town," the 1944 musical about sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York. It was also the Broadway debut of its authors, composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Among the more than 50 shows Colt worked on during his lengthy career were "Guys and Dolls" (1950), "Top Banana" (1951), Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Pipe Dream" (1955) -- for which he won a Tony -- "The Lark" (1955), "Li'l Abner" (1956), "Destry Rides Again" (1959) and "Here's Love" (1963).

In his later years, Colt was known for his outlandish costumes for "Forbidden Broadway," a long-running series of revues that spoof Broadway shows.

"Alvin had a tremendous sense of wit in visual design," said Gerard Alessandrini, creator-writer-director of "Forbidden Broadway."

"One of his special talents was to be able to look at a piece of material, either a song or a scene, and exaggerate [the costume] just enough to match what the writer was doing," he said.

In "Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit," for example, Colt outfitted one of the knights from "Spamalot" in a suit covered with containers of Spam and perched a Mickey Mouse doll atop the head of an actor portraying Rafiki from the Disney production of "The Lion King."

When the latest revue, "Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening," returns to New York in late June from an engagement in Miami, it will include Colt's last design -- a version of a dress Patti LuPone wears in the current revival of "Gypsy," Alessandrini said.

A native of Kentucky, Colt lost both of his parents at a young age. He went to Yale for design school but left after three years to go to New York and work in theater. His initial jobs were with a theatrical fabric house and, later, a ballet company where he became interested in costuming.

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