June 2, 2007

Present Laughter Costumes

I've finally filled in some details about the costumes shown in these blog exclusive Present Laughter photos. Thanks to Costume Director Nancy Brennan for telling us what's going on. Take a look...

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) is prepared to travel in this red and black ensemble, having just reserved the honeymoon suite for herself and Mr. Essendine on the impending transatlantic voyage. It took a couple of tries to find just the right fabric to create this suit - something that could look well while still being fitted to within an inch of it's life. This character's costumes were intentionally very body-conscious. The cape lining was dyed to match the suit, it originally was the same black and white as the cape exterior.

Liz Essendine (Lisa Banes) and Daphne Stillington (Holley Fain) meet the morning after. Daphne's fluffy white ballgown renders a laugh every evening. Our designer, Mariann Verheyen, had a ball embellishing this gown and capulet, which are studded with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. The gown gets "fluffed up" every night to maintain it's wonderful volume.

Fred (James Joseph O'Neil) serves up some sass in his morning service wear.We went through a few options before settling on a look for Fred that would immediately convey his station in the house but also stand out on the set and have a hint of humor to it. We think this striped vest fits the bill. The sleeve garters were the final flourish.

Morris Dixon (Marc Vietor), looking dour and confused in this dark pinstriped suit, gets an earful from Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). Mr. Garber has four of these beautiful silk dressing gowns. We copied dressing gowns of the period to try and keep the fluidity and drape of the originals. This particular gown fabric was, of course, chosen with a nod to the character's upcoming trip to Africa. Morris went through a few permutations of ties and pocket squares before we chose this combination.

Monica Reed (Sarah Hudnut), looking well ordered, helps to restore some sanity to yet another mad morning at the Essendine studio. This costume started with the sumptuous green wool that makes up the outer coat. We wanted the look of the suit, with the skirt and coat matching, but the coat wool was too heavy to create a graceful skirt. Therefore, our expert craftsperson, Denise Wallace, dyed an ivory wool to match the coat fabric perfectly. Voila, an ensemble!

Henry Lyppiatt (Richard Snee) blusters up a storm, in his gray morning suit, at Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). Richard Snee makes every tailored suit look wonderful, he's the picture of perfection here, right down to his matching gloves.

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) attempts to claim some turf while Miss Erikson (Nancy E. Carroll) doubtfully looks on, noting yet another occupant in Mr. Essendine's clothing. When one of Gary Essendine's lady friends finds herself "without a latchkey", she sometimes borrows one of his many dressing gowns. We made this green silk paisley gown to fit Victor, so that the audience would immediately make the connection as to where the gown came from.

Daphne Stillington (Holley Fain) once again expresses her devotion to Gary Essendine in this pleated and polka dotted wonder. This costume has a custom sunburst-pleated skirt that has a wonderful movement onstage. A few embellishments to this costume were edited out in the fitting room and/or dress rehearsal, though. The original wide fabric sash of red polka dot was traded for this sleeker and more flattering belt, and we decided to forgo bangle bracelets and extra painting on the shoes that made the overall effect too busy.

Roland Maule (Brooks Ashmanskas), never one to be outdone, is also packed (complete with Teddy) and ready to accompany Mr. Essendine on his tour of Africa. For the character of Roland Maule we thought the quirky vests that he wears are part of his signature. They also lend a youthful quality that's quite different from the more mature men.

The flowery Lady Saltburn (Alice Duffy) makes her acquaintances with Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). This costume became a case of less-is-more. The original dress, well into the dress rehearsal process, had another layer of ruffles, fuller and more dramatic sleeves, and a long, floaty chiffon scarf. Onstage it was too much of a good thing, so off came the ruffles and extras. We toned down the accessories a little, too, and designed a new hat shape that flattered Alice and made a statement but didn't overpower. You'll have to go see the show to see it.

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) wins a round in this hot pink seduction. Well, this dress, as one might imagine, required more fitting time than anything else in the show. Sometimes things that look the simplest are actually quite complicated. Our actress, Pamela Gray, graciously stood for several hours to get this one just right, a feat which was accomplished by our talented staff draper, Penny Pinette.

All Photos by T. Charles Erickson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw "Present Laughter" last week and I had a great time at the theatre - a beautiful set, gorgeous customes (as shown in the pics), and AMAZING cast and a very funny play.
Thank you so much for posting this wonderful pics...