Seamstress to the Stars

April 2019
Written By: 
Harold Rohrback
Photographs by: 
Ryan Smith Gauthier

Accomplished wardrobe supervisor Susan Frye shares her talents locally

They say that once you’ve been bitten by the show business bug, it’s hard to stay away. Such is the case for Susan Frye. After a storied career in the theaters of Washington, D.C., she has returned to the Grand Strand to mentor and share her talents at the Alabama Theatre. Initially after retirement, she contemplated a leisurely existence of being a golf course beverage cart girl, but the call of the theater was too strong.

Looking at her family history, it is apparent that Frye was destined from an early age to join the world of costume and wardrobe alteration. Her mother, Shirley Broderick, retired with more than 30 years in wardrobe at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Her father, Kenny Broderick, retired with over 30 years as an engineer with Singer, Inc. Her older sister, Sandy, recently retired from wardrobe at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Growing up with that much sewing talent in the home made her career choice easy.

Frye has worked as a wardrobe supervisor for all of the major theaters in and around the D.C. area. She has worked with some of the biggest stars in show business, but a couple of her favorites were Jerry Lewis and Aretha Franklin. “Jerry Lewis always had everyone laughing and Aretha Franklin was so nice. She immediately made you feel like a friend,” she said.

Frye moved to Myrtle Beach 15 years ago with her husband, Tom, and daughter, Blair Gibbins, while commuting back and forth for short periods of time during the running of shows in D.C. That got old, and a decision was made to live up north until retirement. During her initial stay on the Grand Strand, she did some part-time work locally and made some connections at the Alabama Theatre.

Upon returning to Myrtle Beach, she reconnected with the theater due in part to the friendly, cohesive atmosphere that makes her job fun. She also gets a chance to mentor the younger employees just getting their start in the business. “There are so many career opportunities in the theater, and it’s fun to come to work every day,” says Frye with a smile.

Resources: