Well . . .”Cinderella” it is . . and my Director likes the “look” of the Broadway production, so that is what I shall be shooting for in my costume designs.
My Goal: A Broadway Look on a High-School Budget.
Impossible right? Probably, but, if you never try you defeat yourself before you even start. Where IS my Fairy Godmother when I need her!?
(Disclaimer: I own none of the pictures in this post.)
I have had the opportunity to review the perusal script, and I have started to form my “vision/interpretation” of what the costumes will (hopefully) look like. Rogers & Hammerstein’s has been quite vigorous at keeping video of the Broadway production off Youtube over much of the course of the show. However in the last 6 months (as the show is coming off Broadway, and is becoming available for local production) they have loosened up, so more video footage and still shots are available to study. (The Broadway versions starring Carly Rae Jepson & Keke Palmer are readily available, as well as some amateur productions.)
Our auditions will be help in late November, so very little actual costume construction can begin until I have measurements. Some years I can guess who will have what role . .but not this year! At this point I am focusing on planning, collecting and preparing.
If you aren’t familiar with the new version of “Cinderella”, the costumes are roughly late 1700’s, with of course, a healthy twist of “Fairytale”. The costumes were designed by William Ivey Long who won the 2013 Tony for Best Costume Design of a Musical. The show ran for 770 performances on Broadway and the touring show is on-going. The new script had mixed reviews, and some parts are a bit slow and corny, BUT, when you combine awesome costumes, a classically wonderful R & H score, and a love story with a happy ending . . . of course people love it!
The show had three Cinderellas: Laura Osnes, Carly Rae Jepson & Keke Palmer. There are a myriad of pictures that follow the cast throughout the Broadway run and show changes as time and actors evolved. There were some notable changes including the omission of the giant in the fight scene, the changing of the armor the Prince wears, the re-shaping of the Godmother dress, and altering the Stepmother (Madame) dress over time.
There are four on-stage costume transformations: Marie (the Fairy Godmother) into her FG dress, Cinderella into her white ballgown, Cinderella out of her white gown and Cinderella into a gold ball gown.
The King & Queen have been eliminated, and the Prime Minister (Sebastian) is a sinister character. The Prince and Cinderella wear white to the ball (this is unavoidable–white is mentioned in the song lyrics multiple times). The Stepmother (Madame) and Stepsisters (Gabrielle & Charlotte) are dressed in muted shades of burgundy and pink. Their ensembles may be slightly “off”, but they are not awful & obnoxious.
The Fairy Godmother (Marie) wears a voluminous nondescript robe in the beginning and later an even more voluminous purple ball gown and an unusual horn-like pop-up crown. Another new character is “Jean-Michael” who is a lobbyist/firebrand for social change in the Kingdom.
The ensemble, when dressed as villagers, wear muted colors which blend nicely with the just-a-bit brighter over-the-top gowns worn at the ball.
The main opening scene occurs in the forest where the Prince is battling Giants & Dragons. He wears a suit of armor, and his soldiers wear a Conquistador-inspired look:
The show closes with a wedding scene where the cast is dressed in shades of neutrals:
What have I done:
In addition to studying the costumes online through video and still images, I have been researching how to make transforming costumes. I will discuss this in a upcoming post. (The Cinderella Musical Facebook page has some great pictures of costumes.)
I have met with our Director and the Set Designer. We are negotiating the color palette. Our set designer likes a lot of color in her sets. I would like the palace to be neutrals so that the costumes pop. The village, I think can go either way: colorful set/neutral costumes or neutral set/colorful costumes or both colorful, as long as we use the similar colors. In general, the Director wants a more vibrantly colored “Fairytale” look with brighter colors and brighter lights than the Broadway show. This works well for upcycling since it will allow me to utilize a wide variety of modern colors, especially for the ball scene.
I have read the perusal script for costumes clues. For example, Sebastian is described as an “overly elegantly dressed man of court”, and Jean-Micheal as “wild hair, bespectacled revolutionary”. Clues also come from dialogue and lyrics such as the Prince is in a white mask and Gabrielle is in a pink mask and the Prince is in a white coat. It is unavoidable that the Prince & Cinderella wear white to the ball as Cinderella sings “He was slim, very slim, in his coat of snowy hue”, and then dreams of ” A white gown, I imagine. A beautiful white gown sewn up with pearls. And jewels. And a tiara of diamonds”.
I have listed out the “non-listed characters” that have speaking/acting parts in the show, and I began the props list at the same time.
I am beginning to work on the “look” of various costume sets in collaboration with my Director–what will the soldiers look like? what shape will the hoops be in the ball scene? will I buy hoops or make hoops? What style coat will the Prince wear? the men in the ball scene? will the stepmother/sisters be wacky or more normal looking?
I have started collecting potential costume pieces. Halloween is the BEST time to pick up costume pieces at thrift stores. I look not only at the dresses, but also at the linings and petticoats. I know I want the ballroom dancers to have very full dresses. The ballgowns in the show are very over-the-top. I figure the “best” dresses (probably going to the ballroom dancers) will take 2-3 dresses each for fabric. I really want to adapt the dresses enough that people in the audience don’t say “Oh look! She has her Prom dress on!” or “Oh look! I wore a Gunne Sax dress like that to my Prom!”. One of the major tasks I have right now is washing EVERYTHING. We don’t dry clean any of our costumes, so for the most part, unless it can go through the washer, we don’t use it.
I purchased a pattern for a 1790’s frock coat and a fellow costumer/sewer is going to make a prototype. I have a large roll of fabric I am hoping will work, but it leans toward an oilcloth (I think it is left from making seat cushions of some sort). If this fabric won’t work, then we will be looking for something large and cheap (each coat is listed as taking 5 yards of fabric).
I hope to start doing a little sewing soon. We are making pantaloons/bloomers as I won’t put a girl in a hoop without them every again. I also can start working on some peasant clothes. I know I will need some very full skirts and petticoats for the dancers.
I can’t do too much final costume design until I see the cast list. Since I plan to upcycle most of the “fancy” costumes, who wears what will depend upon what I have/can find and who it will fit. This method of costuming definitely does have limitations, but I think the trade-off in detailing and fabrics is worth it.
But, it is a start!