One of the joys of live theater is that there is always the possibility that something might go catastrophically wrong. I costumed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels a few months ago. Monday of tech week, the day after the production photos were taken, one of the two leading ladies went into the hospital. She was, obviously, replaced. Her replacement could not fit the same costume – the size was off, and she played the character differently. That sort of left me scrambling for a new concept (I settled on something around early Loretta Lynn meets GCB) and a some western wear that didn’t fall into my budget. Bring on the franken-jacket!
Tag: On the Cheap
File this under “Reasons missa is going to milliner’s hell” for 100, Alex.” This is the WRONG WAY to recover a hat. DO NOT DO THIS. It’s bad bad bad Wrongy McWrong. It’s really bloody fast. But it is wrong, and will probably get you mocked by anyone who knows what they are doing. You have been warned… ;)
I’m saving the best for last – I loved the way this costume turned out! It is, by far, the most wack-a-doodle set of design decisions I’ve ever made. I really wanted to do a rather prim dress for the Countess, what with how she’s rich and all. At the same time, there’s only so much “prim” you can use around a Steve Martin script, and the character is fairly exuberant. So she needed a costume with enough detail to be lavish, enough joy to match the character, an olde-timey silhouette, and it had to come from resale. You know, no bigs….
So, for the next installment in the series, I’ll tackle the character of Germaine in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. (Wowza, did that sound pretensious…) The rough inspiration for the costume was, “How would Miss Piggy do Steampunk?” This one is slightly more complex than the Admirer, but still pretty easy to wrangle out of resale…
So I’m doing Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Wheaton Drama right now – big funny Steve Martin craziness, right? It’s our studio show. Now, I figured the studio show was where we do something artistically risky, just to see how the audience responds and not care too much about how it sells. This should tell you how much I still need to learn about theater… Le sigh. Silly me. Apparently, “studio show” is theater-ese for “low budget”. So, what’s a costumer to do when she finds herself with an 11 person period show, and the show budget is 500$ less than what she wanted for the costumes? Steampunk.
Have I mentioned that my show has, by and large, come from Goodwill? Yes, indeed. One of the characters in 1776 is “a courier”. (No, really, that’s all they call him in the script.) He’s an army courier who brings messages in to the continental congress. I need him to look like he’s a) military and b) really, really dirty. This means that I get to build the coat, and then I get to have a bit of fun with it…
Oddly enough, I needed 19 pair of Colonial britches to go with my 25 Colonial vests. (Because I had much better luck renting britches than vests, not because I let anyone go pantless.) This is very similar to the trick I used for the Oliver! knickers, but they need a slimmer fit and different length. It goes like this:
I needed 25 Colonial-looking vests for 1776. Because I wasn’t sure that I’d get round to making a coat for everyone, I wanted vests that weren’t faked out in the back, and I needed them to have structure and to be long enough to cover the obviously modern fly fronts on the britches I was making them. Now, you can’t just trot off to the Goodwill and buy a real live Colonial vest. But you can pull off something passable, if you believe that that there are, in fact, user-serviceable parts inside of a jacket….
So I was out trimming the privet hedge the other day, like you do (she says, sounding perfectly British about the whole thing) when I stopped to think, “Gee, I wonder if I could bone a corset with some of these clippings? I should give that a try…” So I did.
The world is full of straw hats. They are almost never the size and shape you’d like them to be. (That’s a known effect of the Law of Universal Irony, along with how the thread already in the needle is never a color that will work for your current purposes.) Fortunately, reblocking a straw hat is pretty gosh darned simple.