Thursday, April 12, 2012

Costumes: BMT's "Guys & Dolls"

I love dress rehearsals.  It's a blink away from opening night, and it's a chance to see where all this work for the past few months has taken us to.  It also give us ensemble a chance to run through the marathon of costume changes we'll be going through.  Here are a few snaps of my costumes for the production!

Please meet Sherry "Two Fingers" Temple, Runyonland's Bag Lady!  Joe and I had created this character from scratch (she's not in the original script) and managed to make her a supporting player of sorts.  We had determined that she would have had a good life in her early years, but had made the wrong decisions that lead her to her drinking-and-street-wandering ways.  Her costume would be layers of out-of-date mismatched fashions that don't fit her quite right, complete with oversized purse that carries her favourite item - a mickey of vodka!  (Really, it's water!)  The hat and scarf are meant to hide the 'Hot Box' hair for my other character, and it really made the costume.  I had found it in the wardrobe room, it had this terrible mustard yellow and brown pattern to it.  I held it in place with a kerchief knotted under my chin and a few bobby pins.  Flattering, no?  I wear this costume most of the show and I do a lot of physical acting, so there may be a few tweaks to the mobility of the costume, so to speak.  I'll probably add some sort of pin to the front of the sweater to keep it closed and from dropping down my arms.  The dress is big for me, but it hangs just right to give me a shrunken posture.  I'll most likely belt the dress to hike up the hem so that I don't trip when I have to run across the stage to warn the crapshooters about the cops. :)  It's a lot to put on at once, so thankfully I could get away with wearing other costumes underneath if need be.

And here's my other character, Margie Jones, dancer at the Hot Box Club with Miss Adelaide!  I had named her after my grandmother, Marguerite, when I found a picture of her in the fourties looking rather stylish.  This stylish costume is from Georgetown's Globe Theatre wardrobe department, the polka dot shirt is my own, and the pearl necklace makes another appearance in another dance number, 'Take Back Your Mink'.  The hair is curled down the back with rolled bangs pinned to the side.  I may add a brooch to the jacket - I have the perfect one my grandmother gave me!  I also have a small cream-coloured clutch purse that I use as a personal prop - I pay for a magazine at the newsstand at some point.  I wear this costume all of three times just to walk straight across the stage and exit again.  Thankfully, this one is a quick one to change in and out of.

Here's comes Margie, ready to dance!  This costume is for the first Hot Box Club number, 'Bushel and a Peck.'  The script calls for 'Miss Adelaide and her Farmerettes', but we had come up with this costume concept thanks to the dance parents who had graciously let us borrow these beautiful shorts with black and green crinoline fanning across the ... fanny, I guess!  We wore black bodysuits underneath and fishnet stockings, and included the yellow feather boa detail (thanks to Roxanne for sewing them on!) on the crinoline and the front of the bodysuit.  We were constantly molting whenever we rehearsed the number, but still plenty of tailfeathers left to shake!  Our other costume for 'Take Back Your Mink' is a quick change, so I didn't get a chance to snap a picture.  Mind you, that one is a little risque ... you'll see what I mean later.

Bienvenidos a Cuba!  This costume is for the Havana scene, when Sky whisks Sarah away on an exotic dinner date and become enamoured with the colourful sights and sounds of this Latin paradise.  Joe had wanted bright, bold colours in this particular scene, where the ensemble are the Havana locals welcoming these two particular tourists in their own special way.  The skirt was provided by wardrobe - my fellow castmate Joanna is wearing the same skirt - and the green top and pink scarf are my own.  They're a great match for the skirt!  I had the pink scarf in my hand, tossing it around in the air during the number, but I had decided to tie it in my hair instead for a different look.  The skirt was long enough to hold up slightly, like in the picture above and flail it about while I was dancing, which made for good visuals.  Joe had also said not to be shy about the jewelry, just make big, shiny and colourful!  I had gone for a slight touch of silver; a multi-layered thin chain necklace, a stack of silver bangles and a pair of large silver earrings I still need to repair.  The scene concludes with a bar fight between Sky, Sarah, a young temptress and her dancer partner as they compete for each other's affections.  Thank goodness it's a roomy skirt with lots of room to run in - I just need to make sure I hold it up from my heels!  Even though she's only out for one scene, I named her Mariposa because Joanne was wearing almost the exact same costume as me and was always blocked on the opposite side of the stage during the scene.

There is one more costume that is a little risque and also a quick change of sorts from the number 'Take Back Your Mink', I didn't have much time to snap a picture of it.  I've been told there was a photographer in the house during our dress rehearsal taking pictures, so I hope to see those soon and post a few for you!

There you have it!  Costume changes have been interesting; some were much quicker than anticipated, I was late for two of them.  Figuring out what side of the stage your costume needs to be on to make a quick change for your next entrance as an entirely different character needs a little 'test run' first, the whole purpose of dress rehearsals.  When finally performing with all the elements in play - the set, the costumes, the props, the band, everything - the focus is a little more intense because it's finally become a real production.  The costumes especially were a big help to me.  I had primarily used an 'Outside-In' Method when it came to developing these characters - different strides in the walk, facial expression, posture and just about anything else physical that came across my brain.  The costumes really helped solidify the physical traits of my characters, of course the costumes were also considered based on the physical traits I had developed through rehearsals.  (I'll be breaking down the characters in a different post based on this method.)  Once they were on, the fit, the look and the feel helped put the character in place.  I shuffled with short, quick steps as the Bag Lady because of the many layers and long, oversized dress I was wearing.  (It also didn't help the fact that she was 'drunk' most of the time!)  Margie lifted her heels and knees a bit higher and held her shoulders back when she walked, more of a dancer's strut in a way since she's a Hot Box Girl.  Mariposa has a wide stride, almost a cross between a dancer's leap and a sprint when she's excited, although her colourful attire says she requires consistent attention.  Each costume had its way of cementing the character, reminding the actor's awareness of movements and traits that were built during the rehearsal process.

So my question to you would be - what's your favourite costume you've worn on Halloween, cosplay, theatre production, just about any reason you've had to wear a costume?  Did you find yourself creating a character with that costume - walking and talking slightly differently, creating mannerisms you wouldn't normally do?  That, my friends, is the 'Outside-In' Method!  Share in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Really nice costumes, looks like it was a great production! Lovely character development as well. :) I'm costume designing G&D this fall, and I know you didn't get to snag a shot of your "Take Back Your Mink" costume, but could you please describe to me kind of what you guys had? Did you make the gowns? How were they removable? What did you wear underneath? Thanks for a great article.


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