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Chicago is Open!

I’m just digging myself out of the black hole that was tech week (and, in fact, the weeks prior to) – too much sewing/arts and crafts work, not enough time, and no where near enough coffee in the universe.  The show is up though, and it looks pretty good.  My costuming partner Gretchen handled everything that could be bought or borrowed (including umpteen zillion trench coats and the world of tarty lingerie), and I was on for everything that had to be built (fan dancer costumes, the circus in Razzle Dazzle, hats and headwear, etc).  Everything was on schedule until the middle of tech – sure, the schedule was aggressive, but it was going well.  I was winning the eternal battle between choreography and costume (ie, how do I made a dress that stays on an actress who wears a DDD and does cartwheels?  How do I keep a giant diaper on a giant dancing baby who does summersaults?  I’d tell you these were the eternal questions, but fortunately, they don’t really come up all that often….)  I’d even figured out what the heck a “sexy clown” wears.  (The Director/Choreographer wanted a “sexy clown” in Razzle Dazzle.  Now, here’s the thing: clowns aren’t supposed to be sexy.  I don’t care how cute the actress playing the clown is.  Clowns are funny, sure, and just a little creepy, definitely, but not sexy.  Go ask the internet for sexy clowns.  I did.  The internet called me a pervert.  Clowns just aren’t supposed to be sexy.  I finally settled on making sheer bloomers with a giant “granny panty” central panel (because she does straddle summersaults – of course) using the logic that if sheer panties are sexy, then sheer bloomers are hilarious.)

And then the clown shoes happened.  Our director wanted antique clown shoes.  These are hard to find and expensive, so we assumed they’d be dropped (because, oddly, we’d been told that if we couldn’t find good looking clown shoes, forget it, no one likes a crappy plastic clown shoe).  If you’re not in theater, you should know that tech week is also the week of, “Oh, just kidding, we absolutely have to have it.”  Someone suggested using the clown shoes we had, which were bright blue plastic ones, on stage.  In a show where my name is down as one of the two costumers, mind you.  I spent a lot of quality time with hot glue, craft felt, and acrylic paint and made them into passable clown shoes.  That might have been a whole lot of fun, if it had been part of my build schedule and I had allotted time to craft my little heart out.  But it got done, and I was back on schedule and about to go to my happy place (hats and fun head hoo-has), when I got a note about quick rigging/actor proofing a straight jacket…. Pause here, to contemplate the irony of making a straight jacket that can be gotten into and out of quickly.  Le sigh….

Ultimately, I was still making the head pieces for act 2 during act 1 of the preview night.  I hate doing things like that.  It seems so … disorganized and amateurish.  Ah, well….  Whatcha gonna do?

If you’re interested, the production photos of the (almost) finished costumes can be seen here: .  (All production photos courtesy of Ken Beach.)  You can still get tickets to the show through .  That’s probably only useful if you live in the Chicago (the city) area, and have a strong desire to see Chicago (the musical).

I’ve started an article on how to make a show girl headdress.  I needed them for my fan dancers, and I couldn’t find directions for the kind I wanted.  (Incidentally, lest anyone’s sense of decency be offended by the apparent lack of clothing on the girls in most of the pictures, I’d like to point out that most of their costumes are built over full body shapers.  The fan dancers, particularly, velcro to the shapers to avoid any potential wardrobe malfunctions.  This is how you balance the Director’s desire for a great big Vaudeville style skimpy-clothing show with the actresses’ collective desire to not actually expose the goods….)


  1. Brian Morton
    Brian Morton June 16, 2010

    “Pause here, to contemplate the irony of making a straight jacket that can be gotten into and out of *quickly*. Le sigh….”

    There’s a reason why we call them “escape jackets.” Because when’s the last time you saw someone *not* get out of one?

    In other words, the make of the jacket usually has nothing to do with the speed of entry/exit. Make one that looks like what a straitjacket looks like. :)

    Hope you’re doing well.

  2. missa
    missa June 16, 2010

    Yes, but hon, for those who are *not* in the magic biz, we really do like to think of straight jackets as a restraint device that protect us from dangerous crazies rather than a rigged prop. I made it as best as I could to look as real as it could for the time period in question. And I hear the actress is getting much better at not popping the velcros – always good when it comes to maintaining the illusion.
    I’m good – hope things are well for you too. Email me sometime….

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