BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Shon LeBlanc, Owner of The Costume House in NoHo
With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved.
This Spotlight focuses on Shon LeBlanc, owner of The Costume House in NoHo who had 15 shows on his costume design schedule cancel within a week due to the COVID-19 shutdown to "FlattenTheCurve" of infection.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Shon LeBlanc (Shon): As of this year, I have been doing this for 35 years and have been fortunate to work with amazing people who gave me a chance to do what I do and push me to do better. Sometimes that process has been frustrating; but in the end, it was a good thing as it helped me grow to become a better designer. And as of now, I have done over 400 shows from classics to world premieres. I also taught costume design at Academy of Art College in SFO, as I do many schools here as I believe in educating our up and coming theatre folk.
I own The Costume House in NoHo and create a great variety of show ensembles with my talented staff, joined the Costume Designers Guild, and was lucky enough to do the Disney series Encore. Now let me tell you, my theatre background came in handy since that show's theme is "let's do a musical in 5 days and present it in front of a live audience!" So after doing Encore, nothing scares me!
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?
(Shon): The amazing "Human Interest Story" at the Fountain was running and got suspended, but it will rise again!!! As a matter of fact, I lost 3 shows in one day, and by the end of the week about 15 productions as we had schools either postpone or just cancel all together. Some included The Share Project which cancelled their yearly show, while the next show at the Fountain, shows at Sierra Madre, McCoy-Rigby and the Lounge cancelled, and the Encore season 2 is on hold.
(SB): How were those shutdowns communicated with you, the cast, and production team?
(Shon): Most people either called directly or sent a full company email to let us know. But I can tell you it was not easy for them to tell us. Every Producer or Director was really shaken and devastated.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(Shon): Yes, luckily "Human Interest Story" will continue once things are lifted, and "Joe and Betty" at the Lounge has been pushed but will be produced. McCoy-Rigby has plans to present their season with a later start date to be determined. I have no idea what will happen with the schools, but Sierra Madre Playhouse will not open until March next year. So that means no traditional "Christmas Story" there this year:
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Shon): I had just moved the shop in February, and then just a month later the shutdown happened. So things are a mess there right now. I am spending time going over there to clean things up, but it's going slowly. But to keep myself in creative mode, I have been posting pictures of hats, jewelry, purses, and ties on Facebook. And people seem to appreciate it, so that will continue.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Shon) I miss the work, my fellow designers, and the cast, which makes me realize I really didn't know how important this community is to me. I miss the magic that happens in it each and every day. I mean where else can you get an email from Del Shores asking if you might like to do his next show, or stand out on the street in Hollywood and have a phone conversation with Nia Peeples? And have Robert Waldon and Chi Chi LaRue come to your shop on the same day. After all, where else would you get to do Show Boat, the Grandfather of all musicals, and the world premiere of Athol Fugard's Exits and Entrances at the same time?
I encourage you to think about all that you have been blessed with, especially all the amazing people you have worked with and the shows that made you proud. The stinkers... get a laugh out of that! Remember, we WILL be back together soon.
Please everyone...keep in touch.! Find me on Facebook at Shon LeBlanc; and follow The Costume House, which is located at 13222 Raymer Street, Suite A, in North Hollywood, CA. 91605. Contact me there for all your costume needs at 818-508-9933. And remember we will all be ready to work once this is over. Please reach out for help when you need it and support your friends when they reach out to you. We are all in this together.
All photos in this Spotlight were provided by Shon LeBlanc from productions in which he designed the costumes.