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'Bling' exhibit flashes costumes from Broadway and Liberace

Liberace may have passed away 30 years ago, but his sheen and shine is eternal.

Wardrobe from the pianist, known as “Mr. Showmanship,” is the centerpiece of a new exhibit titled “Bling: The Brilliant History of Glitz” at the Costume Museum at the Wick in Boca Raton. It opens Oct. 7 and runs through May 20, 2018.

“Bling” also includes elaborate stage costumes from Broadway shows such as “La Cage aux Folles,” “The Producers,” “42nd Street” and “Evita.” It came about following an offhand comment by a visitor to the museum, curator Kimberly Wick says.

“A lady said to me last year — she was looking at all these fabulous costumes with sequins, feathers and beading — ‘You ought to do an exhibit and call it Sparkle,” Wick recalls. “I thought about that nonstop for, like, two hours, and I thought, ‘She’s right: There’s a lot of sparkle here at the Wick.’ ”

But she wanted more. So Wick says she reached out to the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts in Las Vegas, hoping they would loan some of the luxuriously decorated costumes for which the entertainer was known.

“That day they called us back and said, ‘Absolutely, we want to be a part of the Wick Museum,’ ” Wick says. “Then, we have all these cruise-ship costumes from the Norwegian Cruise Line that we just purchased … that are just over-the-top.

But it is the Liberace pieces that wow Wick.

“The Liberace is the absolute icing on the cake,” she says. “I’ve been doing this for over 40 years, and you’ve just never seen anything like it. They’re just incredible. These costumes are actually precious works of art. The details, the artisanship, the craftsmanship, the design elements have all been executed so brilliantly. They are art works that get to work every day onstage. They are about as precious as they can be. They are just exquisite. The Liberace wardrobe is beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

“Bling: The Brilliant History of Glitz” runs Oct. 7-May 20 at the Costume Museum at the Wick, 7901 N Federal Highway, in Boca Raton. Tours of the museum are generally available seven days a week by appointment only and begin at 11 a.m. Daily tours with lunch (three courses) cost $48. Tour, lunch and cabaret performance cost $58. Tour, lunch and matinee performance on the main stage cost $115. To RSVP, call 561-995-2333 or go to TheWick.org.

The Liberace Gala Luncheon, featuring a performance by Liberace tribute artist Martin Preston, will begin noon Saturday, Oct. 7. Tickets cost $145 and reservations are required.

“A Conversation With the Liberace Foundation” will begin 11:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 6, with the foundation’s chairman, Jonathan Warren, giving a behind-the-scenes look into Liberace. The event includes a luncheon and a tour of the exhibit. Tickets cost $75 per person and reservations required.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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