Keeper of the Plans

New TV drama features lots of Wichita connections, right down to the costumes

Behind the scenes at Music Theatre Wichita

From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D
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From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D

Costumes that were hanging around in a Wichita warehouse will soon be seen on national television.

The first episode of the eight-part miniseries “Fosse/Verdon” premiered Tuesday on FX, and it was produced with a little bit of help from Music Theatre Wichita.

“Fosse/Verdon” explores the troubled relationship between Broadway director/choreographer Bob Fosse and dancer/actress Gwen Verdon.

It counts among its executive producers Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and Steven Levenson (“Dear Evan Hansen”), and it stars Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as the leads.

At least eight actors and actresses who once performed with Music Theatre Wichita are in the cast — Aaron Kaburick, Bruce Winant, Kelcy Griffin, Tessa Grady, Michael Hartung, Eloise Kropp, Shonica Gooden and Joe Joyce.

That’s not necessarily uncommon — many MTW alums were in the music-theatre-oriented 2012 TV show “Smash.”

But “Fosse/Verdon” surprised those in Wichita when it came calling for costumes.

The show rented MTW’s Washington Senators baseball uniforms (from a 2007 production of “Damn Yankees”) from Oct. 20 to Dec. 15 last year, to be used when the miniseries shows the musical “Damn Yankees.”

“We were really very shocked — just dumbfounded when they called from California a few months ago,” said Wayne Bryan, MTW’s producing artistic director. “Somehow our website was on their radar.”

MTW frequently rents out its sets and costumes to theaters around the country, but this was the first time it’s done so for a television show.

“We’ve gotten a few calls from ‘Saturday Night Live’ (in the past) but so far none have worked out with the size character they needed,” Bryan said.

“Fosse/Verdon” filmed in New York City starting in November 2018 and production wrapped earlier this year.

Filming in New York City likely allowed the show to draw Broadway talent to its cast — people who could film the show during the day and perform on stage at night.

The show’s costumes were overseen by Melissa Toth, who also designed costumes for the films “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

The second episode of the show, set to air Tuesday at 9 p.m. on FX, centers around Fosse and Verdon’s meeting at a pre-production dance rehearsal for “Damn Yankees” — so expect to see those MTW costumes on screen.

For more information on the show, visit www.fxnetworks.com/shows/fosse-verdon.

In a short preview video the network released Wednesday, the baseball costumes are briefly visible at the 0:15 mark below:

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.


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