‘Bling’ ex­hibit makes a splash

Lib­er­ace and Broad­way cos­tumes sparkle

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - ART - By Rod Stafford Hag­wood

Lib­er­ace may have passed away 30 years ago, but his sheen and shine is eter­nal.

Wardrobe from the pian­ist, known as “Mr. Show­man­ship,” is the cen­ter­piece of a new ex­hibit ti­tled “Bling: The Bril­liant His­tory of Glitz” at the Cos­tume Mu­seum at the Wick in Boca Raton. It opens Oct. 7 and runs through May 20, 2018.

“Bling” also in­cludes elab­o­rate stage cos­tumes from Broad­way shows such as “La Cage aux Folles,” “The Pro­duc­ers,” “42nd Street” and “Evita.” It came about fol­low­ing an off­hand com­ment by a visi­tor to the mu­seum, cu­ra­tor Kim­berly Wick says.

“A lady said to me last year — she was look­ing at all these fab­u­lous cos­tumes with se­quins, feath­ers and bead­ing —‘You ought to do an ex­hibit and call it Sparkle,” Wick re­calls. “I thought about that non­stop for, like, two hours, and I thought, ‘She’s right: There’s a lot of sparkle here at the Wick.’ ”

But she wanted more. So Wick says she reached out to the Lib­er­ace Foun­da­tion for the Per­form­ing and Cre­ative Arts in Las Vegas, hop­ing they would loan some of the lux­u­ri­ously dec­o­rated cos­tumes for which the en­ter­tainer was known.

“That day they called us back and said, ‘Ab­so­lutely, we want to be a part of the Wick Mu­seum,’ ” Wick says. “Then, we have all these cruise-ship cos­tumes from the Nor­we­gian Cruise Line that we just purchased … that are just over-the-top.

But it is the Lib­er­ace pieces that wow Wick.

“The Lib­er­ace is the ab­so­lute ic­ing on the cake,” she says. “I’ve been do­ing this for over 40 years, and you’ve just never seen any­thing like it. They’re just in­cred­i­ble. These cos­tumes are ac­tu­ally pre­cious works of art. The de­tails, the ar­ti­san­ship, the crafts­man­ship, the de­sign el­e­ments have all been ex­e­cuted so bril­liantly. They are art works that get to work ev­ery day on­stage. They are about as pre­cious as they can be. They are just exquisite. The Lib­er­ace wardrobe is be­yond any­thing I’ve ever seen.”

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