Wednesday, July 8, 2015


No posts here for a long time, because I was super busy working on costuming a show.

I don't generally costume for theater.  Too many costumes, in too short a time period, with not enough budget.  In this case, I had ten actors to dress in about three weeks.  The director's theme was Cotton Candy, and I was really hankering to do some Rococco-Punk, which is pretty much exactly what she wanted for the show.

Unfortunately, I don't have an all-cast photo in their costumes.  I'm still waiting on the "official" photos.  But I've got some behind-the-scenes stuff from the actors, and a few bits and pieces to share.  Here's a bunch of the cast in their "green room" - the parking lot behind the theater.

And a shot on stage, during a dress rehearsal:  (ignore the trash on the table!)

This was a very colorful show.  Each character had a color - which makes the decisions a lot easier.  The women all had custom corsets (which I made), and wigs.  All of the actors' shoes, with two exceptions, were modified in some way.  Here are my lovely ladies:


The beautiful Heather Christopher as Mme. Pernell.  Heather's wearing her own Fleuvogs, purple fishnets, lavender pantaloons, a hoop-skirt frame covered with a ruffled skirt, a linen blouse, and a tudor-esque corset in purple brocade.  The skirt is about ten rows of 3" ruffles, made from a thrift-store bed sheet, and some lavender costume satin salvaged from a skirt I made about 20 years ago, and never wore.  (The tulle from that skirt got re-purposed into a veil for another character.)  The linen for the blouse was a find while on vacation - the fabric for the pantaloons came out of my quilting stash.  It was that kind of show. Here's Heather when we first tried on her corset:

I kind of love the post-apocalyptic-looking parking lot with this costume walking around in it.  They look like circus performers.

Here's a variety of shots of the layers of this costume:

Next up, is the lovely Adriana Chavez as Elmire.  There's a bit of slapstick in the first act, with her in a bunch of dressing gowns, which are pulled off her as the scene progresses.  By the end of the show, however, she's fully dressed:


She's wearing a shirt of mine that happened to be the right color, tudor-style corset, pantaloons (again, fabric out of my quilting stash), a couple of dressing gowns from the thrift store, a skirt made from a thrift store sari and some lightweight cotton from my vacation, and thrift store shoes, covered in turquoise suede, with the heels painted white. All of the women's wigs were cheap cosplay wigs, styled by the director and me.  Here's Adriana the first time we got the corset on her.  (I love the Star Wars t-shirt with it.)
And now, our gorgeous Vanessa, as the innocent Marianne:
She's got a chemise of a very lightweight cotton (found on vacation) decorated with ribbon roses, a more Victorian-style corset, pantaloons, and a skirt-thing on the hips made from a thrift store sari. The shoes in the photo above didn't end up getting used - they were too loud on stage.  Here's the shoes we ended up using for the show - ballet flats covered in hot pink brocade:
Here's her corset when we tried it on.  I really love this pale pink as a corset, and the boys at work chose this as their favorite thing I've ever made:

And finally, the outrageous and saucy Amanda, as Dorine, the maid:

Amanda's corset is more modern in its lines - no gussetts.  Just straight lines, and that little collar-point turn over in the front.  (One of these days, I'm going to make myself a long-line corset, over the bust, in dark grey pinstripes with that little wingtip collar.  Something I saw at a convention a few years ago, and I'm totally going to steal that idea...)  She's also wearing a thrift store blouse, with lace added at the cuffs and collar, and a skirt I made.  Her shoes are some of my favorites for the show - I didn't have quite the right color of dark blue spray paint at home, but I did have royal blue, and black.

One of the shoes was a little tight across the vamp, so I sliced off the "leather" bows that were on these shoes so I could cut them open just a little.  And of course, glued on replacement bows to match the costume.

On to the boys.  Our title character, Tartuffe, is a charlatan priest.  Typically dressed in black for these shows, our director wanted him to be brighter and more charming.  He's played by the crazy good looking Michael Christopher. (This whole cast was so gorgeous.  That's a benefit of costuming a play:  you get to be around beautiful people who take their clothes off for you.)  So we put him in white and gold.  He dyed his hair an ice-blue for the show, so I didn't have to do anything there.

His jacket is a thrift store suit jacket, which has been painted white with house paint.  The trim is free-hand painted gold paint.  His shoes are thrift store dress shoes, spray painted white.  As he wore them, they flaked off along the crease lines - I really loved how they turned out.  All the mens' shoes were done this way, and inspired by a suit worn by Bill Nighy in the film Love Actually.

 Orgon, the patriarch, is played by the very talented Christian Carvajal.  I never knew someone could look good in yellow, but he really carried it off.  Carv's jacket was another thrift store blazer, painted yellow with latex house paint.  His shoes were spray painted white, then given a wash of yellow - yellow acrylic paint brushed on, then wiped off with a paper towel.  The jacket was originally a black and white houndstooth print, and his black trousers, I think, complimented that underlying color.

We also put color in the actors' hair - in this case, some yellow spray.  Some days were more successful than others.  In this photo, it looks like I put in too much.  Generally, it was more subtle than that.


The brother-in-law, Cleante, was played by Rick Perlstein.  (I'm running out of superlatives for these guys - they're all fantastic.)  Rick's color was green, and again, his jacket was painted with house paint.  Something about the fabric really didn't want to take the paint, so I ended up going a little more spontaneous on his.  The underlying color was brown, and his trousers were brown to match.  His shoes got the same treatment - spray painted white, then a wash of green. 
Rick's hair had to be sprayed up, and the green color was hair chalk.  (Hot Huez, specifically.) 
I don't have much in the way of photos of Rick, unfortunately.
Next up is Xander, as Marianne's lover, Valere.  His vest was finished about two hours before curtain on opening night.  He's also wearing some thrift store trousers that I shortened, and spray-painted shoes.  He also had a touch of blue in his hair.


Jesse Moore-Hendrickson played hotheaded Damis.  His costume was very simple - just dress shirt, shortened trousers, painted shoes, and color in his hair.  Jesse is very tall, and I couldn't find socks that went all the way up to his knees in an appropriate salmon or coral color.  So I dyed some very tall dance socks from Dharma Trading Company.  He's not wearing them in this first photo.

That last photo also has Rick's shoes. 

I don't have any photos at all of the final costume - Chris Rocco as the officer at the end of the play.  His was also the least interesting costume.  Grey shirt, black jacket, trousers and shoes.  Shoes weren't painted - the only things we did for him were to put some purple in his hair, and some gold trim on the jacket. He was also on stage for around five minutes total.

During the run of the show, I also took the costumes home to launder them as often as needed.  Which, since Olympia was experiencing a heat wave, and the theater is small and not air conditioned, was pretty much every night.  This show pretty much dominated all of my free time during its run, as well as before.

So, that's what I've been up to for the last couple of months.  More blog posts coming soon, now that the show's over, and I'm back to doing things again.