By Edwin Folven, 10/20/2011
Hundreds of Outfits Available at Melrose Trading Post
From glitzy and glamorous to period pieces, a famous Fairfax High alumna has donated thousands of costumes to its theatre program.
Anita Mann, a Fairfax graduate from the class of 1964 who owns and operates Anita Mann Productions, and a choreographer for many celebrities and television shows, said she donated the costumes as a way to give back to her alma mater, which she credits with inspiring her career in show business. Mann said she was involved in the school’s drama department and performed in “Bye Bye Birdie”. After leaving high school, Mann pursued a career as a professional dancer, appearing in productions such as “West Side Story” and “Dark of the Moon”.
She said she began moving into choreography while appearing as a dancer in the Elvis Presley film, “Spin Out”, and was asked to help create the dance routines. The routines were so impressive that she was asked to help choreograph all of Elvis’ subsequent films. Mann also later did choreography for Lucille Ball, Michael Jackson, Jane Fonda, Cher, The Muppets and the Solid Gold dancers before launching her own production company in 1986.
Mann donated between 1,500 and 2,000 costumes to the school that were previously used in live shows on cruise ships, in Las Vegas and at other venues. While some of the garments are being put aside for the Fairfax High School drama department, a majority of them are being sold to raise money for art programs at the campus. They include glittering showgirl outfits, sequin gowns, rhinestone-covered attire from the 1980s, and clothing reminiscent of the Roaring ‘20s, all of which will be sold at the Melrose Trading Post this Sunday, Oct. 23.
“I am not doing shows on cruise ships anymore, and I had a ton of these wonderful costumes,” said Mann, whose company is based in Santa Monica. “One of the greatest things you can do is give back to your mentors, with Fairfax being my high school. They don’t have the type of funds they need for their arts programs. The fact that I can leave something for them is great, and if it helps one child or one person, then it is a wonderful thing.”
Mann said the costumes she donated had been in storage at her production company. In addition to the donation to Fairfax High School, Mann also donated costumes to dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen’s performing arts programs for children.
Mann made the donation to Fairfax High through the Greenway Arts Alliance, which operates the Greenway Theatre and raises money for the school. The Greenway Arts Alliance also holds the Melrose Trading Post, a weekly flea market, and began the “Costume House Liquidation” sale last Sunday. Kim Little, a Greenway Board member who helped oversee the sale last Sunday, said there has been a good response.
“These are one-of-a-kind, special clothes,” Little said. “The funds they raise will go to the Board, and will support all kinds of programs at the school.”
Little said the prices range from $5 to $175, and include full costumes, as well as hats, shoes and accessories.
“Anyone who has ever been on a cruise ship will recognize these types of clothes,” Little added. “They are very special costumes.”
Both Whitney Weston, co-artistic director for the Greenway Arts Alliance, and Fairfax High School principal Ed Zubiate said the donation will make a difference. Zubiate added that it is an example of ways the school can work together with alumni and the community for support during times of budget uncertainty.
“This is the type of thing we are involved with in general, because there are lots of people out there with resources who are willing to help, and there are lots of ways to help us,” Zubiate said. “It’s great when people think of us like that. She (Mann) had this resource and is helping us with the donation. We are reaching out to our alumni and trying to reestablish that kind of relationship with them.”
The sale will be held on Sunday, Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fairfax High School, 7850 Melrose Ave.
For information, call (323)655-7679 ext. 103 or 107, or visit www.melrosetradingpost.org.