Marilynn Wick and her daughter, Kim, are preparing to open The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum
in the former Caldwell Theatre building on Federal Highway in Boca Raton.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Dale King
When the former Caldwell Theatre closed last year, it left what Marilynn Wick called “a gaping hole in the South Florida theater scene.”
Wick — owner of Costume World, the Costume World Broadway Collection and creator of a major theater gear rental firm — and her daughters, Kim and Kelly, are using their performance and business savvy to revive the Boca Raton cultural arts center.
The former Caldwell — shuttered and silent since spring 2012 when a bankruptcy receiver evicted the company and closed the doors on the $10 million North Federal Highway building — will once again resound with songs and dialogue. On Sept. 19, Marilynn and her daughters will reopen the venue as The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum with a production of The Sound of Music. Equity husband-and-wife duo Krista Severeid and Tony Lawson head a cast of 28.
Staging the Rodgers and Hammerstein gem is just the tip of the Wick-led reconstruction and revival effort that’s taken most of a year.
The back end of the Caldwell building has been gutted to accommodate Wick’s Broadway Collection Museum, which “basically outgrew the space in Pompano Beach,” she said. “The idea of moving it to Boca and making it a true multipurpose arts facility was very exciting.”
Seeing the lifeless Caldwell touched the entrepreneur’s heart.
“I drove by pretty regularly,” she said. “It was simply a tragedy to see that beautiful building sitting empty — particularly in light of the wonderful work the Caldwell had done for so many years. That’s when I got the idea to move my costume museum to the location and reopen the theater.”
Refurbishing involved “a near-total renovation of the interior and exterior entrances for the new museum,” she said. “The frantic pace has been palpable.”
Items moved from Pompano to Boca include original costumes from more than 35 Broadway productions and revivals. In all, Wick has accumulated some 1.2 million pieces.
The collection includes wardrobes from original Broadway productions of The Producers and Titanic; the Sarah Jessica Parker production of Once upon a Mattress, La Cage aux Folles and the Julie Andrews performance of My Fair Lady, with designs by Cecil Beaton.
The theater’s premiere performance will include original costumes from the Broadway revival of The Sound of Music, and some will also be on display in the lobby.
Wick was a single mom who had worked in several trades when she came to Florida from Pennsylvania in the early 1970s. She was running an industrial window-cleaning service when she decided to teach her two pre-teen daughters how to sew.
They created a Santa Claus outfit, and when mom offered it for holiday rental, the response was overwhelming. She followed that by acquiring thousands of costumes and, in time, both her rental and costume museum businesses soared.
There and then, she decided it was “going to be my livelihood.”
Today, Wick sees the theater and museum working hand-in-hand.
Tours begin Nov. 5 and will include visits to the museum, backstage areas and costume shops. Lunch will be served in the Wick Tavern, a re-creation of New York’s former Tavern on the Green, furnished with items purchased at auction from that famed eatery. Cabaret shows of current productions will also be staged.
“Evening visitors,” she said, “can arrive early and enjoy tapas and cocktails before the show, then cabarets and bar service following the final curtain.”
She has high praise for her production team: Stacey Stephens, head designer for the Costume Museum, will direct the theater’s second production, White Christmas (Nov. 14-Dec. 25); Michael Ursua, musical director and director of The Sound of Music, and Joseph Shannon, technical director. Michael Leeds, known for his work on Broadway and locally, directs The Full Monty Feb. 20-March 23.
Wick said the quality of shows will be the true payoff for her bold project.
“I have been around the theater and theater people most of my adult life, and I’ve probably costumed most of them. I know these shows and what they require. I am determined to spare no expense in seeing that necessary production values are applied to every aspect of this arts center.”
If You Go
The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum is at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Museum: Tours of the Costume Museum are scheduled to begin Nov. 5. Tours typically start at 11 a.m. daily.
Hours: Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends.
Price: Tickets are available for the museum tour and luncheon, $38 ($48 in season beginning Dec. 1); museum tour, luncheon and cabaret show, $48 ($58 in season) and the complete package of tour, luncheon and matinee show for $88. Requires reservations; call 995-2333.
Theater: Tickets for shows at the Wick Theatre are $58 and available at the box office, open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekends.