Monday, May 7, 2012

Costuming for the Stage: Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play

It's no secret that I'm crazy about theater. I love almost all aspects of it - directing, acting, managing, writing, and especially costuming. Right now my theater group is putting on a production of Lauren Wilson's Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play and I had volunteered to create the costumes.

Chemical Imbalance by TA. Image Tiia Tuominen @ Helsinki University Museum
The thing with amateur theater is that there's always a shortage of time and money. Most people have full-time jobs or studies and just don't have the time to make costumes from scratch. And fabric and other material can be pretty costly. So we have to make do with what we have - borrow stuff from friendly theater groups and buy old clothes, altering them to look period.

The play is set in pseudo-Victorian England so I could take quite a bit of liberty with costumes. So I decided we won't be using any corsets (it's a slapstick comedy, and corsets are just too restrictive) and we'll set it at the turn of the century, early-Edwardian era.
Edwardian couple
I went through our storage and found a few fabulous dresses. They just needed a bit of jazzing up to give them the feel if not the look of the era and a bit of visual comedy value. So, this is the story of a dress. A dress for a rich lady with horrible taste - Lady Throckmortonshire.

Lady Throckmortonshire
This is the dress I started with. The sleeves were puffy and the cut was all right. The wine red color worked perfectly for the character. It just needed more trimmings.  

My first attempt was unsuccessful. The gold and brown trim that I'd chosen made the dress look medieval. I tried following the sharp pointy waistline, but it was just not right for the Edwardian style.

I realized that what a Belle Époque gown really needs is lace. Lots and lots of lace. I wish I had more time to trim the hem as well, but I was a bit short on lace.

Lady Throckmortonshire is painfully overdressed. So I added some bows. With pearls and a cameo this was going to look great.

Lady Throckmortonshire and Caliope. Image (c) Stuart D. McQuade

The final result.

If you want to read my musings on costumes for this play, you can find the full post HERE.

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