BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — For 35 years, the exotic costumes for Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company were as much a part of the performance as levitations and disappearing doves.
Now, the flowing kimonos, bejeweled turbans, gold lamé pants, sequined tops and colorful clown wigs that created such a visual feast for audiences are up for sale.
With the show on hiatus following the death of its founder, Cesareo Palaez, in March, the remaining members of the magic company have decided to sell off about half of the 2,000 costumes in its collection.
The sale is scheduled for tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre, where the show set a Guinness record as the world’s longest-running stage magic show.
David Bull, the leader of the company who played Le Grand David, said the show could return at some point, but the company is now about one-third the size of its original 70-member cast and no longer needs its entire wardrobe.
Standing among the costumes hanging on racks, packed in storage bins and spread across the floor in a nearby building, Bull said yesterday, “We just don’t need all this.”
Many of the costumes were handmade by cast members, often from fabric that Bull said performers would purchase in their travels to places like Paris and New York City.
The colorful fabrics were embroidered with sequins and embellished with tassels and pearls and intricate designs. Some of the women in the company were accomplished seamstresses, while others learned as they went.
Many of the costumes have an Oriental look, although Bull said there was no intention to replicate a particular cultural or time period.
“We were trying to replicate this fantastic experience where people can be transported,” he said. “It’s more of a fantasy idea.”
The company made new costumes every year to keep up with new cast members or growing children in the cast. A performer could change into as many as 15 costumes in a single show, so there was a need to keep expanding the wardrobe.
Company member Perry McIntosh, who was in the storage area yesterday getting ready for tomorrow’s sale, picked up an oversized, floppy red hat that she used to wear in the show. She said she would wear it onstage for only 15 seconds, while she held a bucket for a clown to pick up pieces of shredded paper.
“There was no opportunity to dazzle that was left undazzled,” she said.
Bull said many of the design ideas came from Palaez, who remembered the costumes he had seen in shows in his native Cuba.
“Cesareo used to say, ‘When you go onstage, it’s not as if you’re waiting at a bus stop,’” Bull said. “These aren’t the kind of clothes you would wear at a bus stop.”
Bull, who said some of the best costumes will sell in the $100 range, acknowledged that he has “conflicting emotions” about the sale.
“These are the things we grew up with and used in the show for 35 years,” he said. “We worked hard to make them and we took care of them.”
Former company members were notified about the sale and were invited to stop by and take any costumes that were of sentimental value to them. Some of the most notable costumes, including many worn by Palaez, who played Marco the Magi, will never be sold, Bull said.
“Some of them are just so iconic they belong to the company or to a museum or to posterity,” McIntosh said. “They’re not going to be down in a bargain bin.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.