UB student’s theatre costumes to benefit in-need students

UB student’s theatre costumes to benefit in-need students

Vaughn Sims and New Paradigm Theatre team up for a June 4 fundraiser fashion show and an August 20-21 production of Oliver! A Reinvented, starring Broadway stars and Bridgeport kids!

Where others see trash—carpet remnants and burlap, yellowed newspapers, a bag of discarded ties—University of Bridgeport student Vaughn Sims sees resplendent capes, dresses, and other one-of-a-kind theater costumes that can be constructed out of recycled materials.

Sim’s unique vision, and his talent as a fashion designer, is now helping to support a program that this summer will cast in-need children and teenagers from Bridgeport to work with Broadway veterans in the play Oliver! A Reinvented, a multi-ethnic, multi-gendered, and multi-generational take on Dickens’s classic tale of a hardscrabble orphan.

The play, which will run August 20-21 at Fairfield Theater Company, is being produced by the New Paradigm Theater (NPT) in collaboration with Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches.

The goal: to produce a cutting-edge and ovation-worthy play while providing an opportunity for students who cannot afford pricey summer enrichment programs to participate in a high-quality acting program—sort of like Oliver himself.

To raise funds for students to participate, NPT asked Sims to create costumes that could be used both in the play as well as the benefit fashion show.

The benefit begins 3 p.m., June 4 at Fairfield Circle Inn, 417 Post Road, Fairfield. Tickets are $35 and all proceeds go directly to NPT’s mentoring program.

“We can’t think of anything more appropriate than casting at-risk children and teenagers as actors in this play. Like fictional Oliver, they can personally relate to the deprivations of hunger, poverty, violence and other social justice issues that are portrayed in the play,” said NPT President and Producing Artistic Director Kristen Huffman.

After putting out the word that she needed a costume designer, Huffman was introduced to Sims.

“I was really impressed,” she said. “Vaughn has brilliantly transformed unused trash into gorgeous, one-of-a-kind theater ensembles to help us produce a hip, current, and socially-relevant Oliver! We’re so proud to bring Broadway to the community to shine a spotlight on the Council’s work in the Bridgeport community through the actual themes presented in the musical.”

For Sims, a resident of Bridgeport, the prospect of contributing to a play that was innovative and working to benefit kids in his hometown community proved to be irresistible, he said.
“It’s important to tell a story like Oliver. We all know there are kids like him—kids who are homeless. Who don’t have food to eat, but we ignore their story every day. There are things we can do to help,” said Sims.

Sims decided to make a line of recycled costumes after thinking about Oliver, an impoverished orphan “who has to scavenge to get by,” Sims added.

Oliver! A Reinvented will be directed by Emmy-nominated actor Scott Bryce, whose screen credits include but are not limited to ER, Reba, Sex in the City, and Homeland. Award-winning composer Paul Bogaev (Chicago, Dreamgirls, Cats, Les Miz) is music director.

The New Paradigm Theatre Company is a professional theater fostering creative problem solvers, leaders, and global citizens through theater arts education and productions.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu