Thursday, September 08, 2005

How to evoke costumes without being costume-y

You'll notice several differences between 42nd St. Moon's "staged concerts" and full-blown musical theatre productions.

Perhaps the most obvious is that we have an orchestra of one. 42nd St. Moon has been blessed with some outrageously talented musical directors who don't give you a chance to miss an orchestra. You also have a chorus of less than 10, not dozens.

Another obvious one is the lack of sets and most props. Sure, we use furniture (a chair here; a table there) and some small props, but mostly the setting is left to your imagination.

But the production value that acts as a bridge between the audience member used to full-blown productions and the 42nd St. Moon style is the costuming. Costumes at 42nd St. Moon need to evoke a certain era, or milieu, but they can't go right over into overt costumes, because then it would just highlight what wasn't there in other areas.

So, I asked Red hot and Blue! costumer (and frequent 42nd St. Moon performer) Amy Cole:
How do you evoke costumes without getting too "costume-y"?

She replied:

"Luckily, we have access to private costume collections and those of the other professional theatre compaines in the area so while we're really just looking to "imply" costumes, we can do that with vintage pieces or ones specifically built for the period. Because of the short rehearsal period and back-to-back productions at The Moon, full costumes are just not practical. What becomes challenging is bringing a costume wardrobe in the stage that does not look like it's been borrowed from 4 different places (which it often will be.) For me, making sure that the period of dress is consistent, that the color pallette is cohesive and sometimes building some of the key pieces myself will help achieve a unified look. Since the costumes are often the only "stage dressing" in Moon shows, they really have to set the proper tone."

I'll try to post some pictures to illustrate what Amy is talking about, once we have some.

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