By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Let’s say you wanted to be a gangster or a cowboy or a king.
What about a hillbilly?
Or Santa Claus?
Or an ostrich?
If you ever wanted to be one of those characters, it would help if you knew June Doyle, the costume mistress at Corinth Theatre-Arts.
“The weirdest costume I ever had to make was for an ostrich,” the 72-year-old said. “When I made the ostrich and it went on stage, it got a standing ovation.”
She’s got you covered if you need the sort of “Dreamcoat” that Joseph was known to wear.
“This is Joseph’s coat,” Doyle said, indicating its many colors with her hand. “We rent it out, too. For $100. People pay it, too. We’ve done that three times.”
For the past 16 years, Doyle has clothed young and old actors in finery or rags, depending on the part.
“I have Elizabethan costumes, Shakespearean costumes, Victorian costumes and biblical costumes,” she said. “I have a beautiful Jesus costume.”
Doyle enjoys the memory of making Cinderella’s ball gown last year. That was a two-month process, and the finished product is ready if it’s needed again.
“Creating something is wonderful,” she said. “Seeing something you created on stage, that’s a great thing.”
She and her husband, Glenn Doyle, live in Selmer, Tenn. A while back, they decided to get rid of the furniture in their living room and put in a pool table.
Now, the pool table is her cutting board.
“At home, I have a guest bedroom. I moved my sewing machine in there. I have costumes piled high on the bed,” she said, lifting her hand about four feet off the ground. “When people come to visit, I take everything off the bed and shove it into the closet and close the door and put on a sign that says, ‘Do not open.’”
CT-A’s production of “Li’l Abner” opens on Friday at Crossroads Playhouse, so Doyle’s been focused on dressing the citizens of “Dogpatch, U.S.A.”
“We made the statue, Glenn and I,” she said. “We built the Jubilation T. Cornpone statue in the show.”
She’s mostly backstage, ready to mend a rip or replace a button, but she appears in a show about every two years.
“In ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ I tap danced,” she said.
The costume mistress job keeps her hopping, especially now that she’s able to hop again. Doyle had surgery about a year ago, then she broke her back the day after Thanksgiving. She’s just now getting back to her old self.
“I’m out of pain, except when I do too much,” she said.
Jan Soltz has been serving as Doyle’s assistant.
“She’s a whiz,” Soltz said. “If we don’t have it, she can make it.”
Since 2006, the theater has awarded the June Doyle Award to the CT-A volunteer who most exemplifies her spirit.
Doyle said she’s a “member of the older set” and it’s important to keep busy, to keep moving, to keep creating.
She could’ve gone to work at Walmart, or spent her days watching movies. Instead, she turns regular folks into cowboys and kings and ostriches.
“I’m going to be here until I die,” she said. “In fact, when I die, I’m going to have my funeral at Corinth Theatre-Arts. Hah!”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.