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Obituary: Joy Bondini – ‘one of the busiest costume supervisors in the West End’

Joy Bondini

Joy Bondini inherited a love of fabrics and sewing from her dressmaker grandmother and tailor mother and went on to become one of the busiest costume supervisors in the West End.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, she worked as an accountant’s and engineering clerk before opening a bespoke dress shop where she attracted attention for her sewing skills.

Moving to London in 1974, Bondini quickly found a job as a dresser on the musical Billy, starring Michael Crawford, at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. During the show’s run she was promoted to deputy wardrobe mistress and subsequently costume supervisor.

Her first show as supervisor from pre-production onwards was Loften Mitchell’s Bubbling Brown Sugar at the Royalty Theatre in 1977. There she met stage manager Iain McAvoy the following year. They married in 1981.

Other shows Bondini worked on included Peter Ustinov’s Overheard (Theatre Royal Haymarket, 1981), William Mastrosimone’s Extremities, with Helen Mirren (Duchess Theatre, 1984), Lanford Wilson’s Burn This (Lyric Theatre, 1990) and Dusty Hughes’ A Slip of the Tongue (Shaftesbury Theatre, 1992), both with John Malkovich.

In 1986, Bondini supervised the world premiere of Chess starring Elaine Paige at the Prince Edward Theatre and worked with Maggie Smith on Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage at the Globe Theatre the following year.

Other notable shows included Bus Stop with Jerry Hall (Lyric Theatre, 1989), the 25th-anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show (1998), George Axelrod’s The Seven Year Itch with Daryl Hannah (Queen’s Theatre, 2000) and Fosse (Prince of Wales Theatre, 2000).

Bondini travelled globally with many of the shows she worked on, personal highlights including Crazy for You and Chicago. Her last production was the Queen jukebox musical We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre, 2002).

In later years, complications from diabetes led to the amputation of both legs above the knee in 2018.

Joy Bondini was born on November 25, 1941 and died of pneumonia on January 23, aged 77. She is survived by her husband.

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