Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dressed for Excess: With Boy George Playing Performance Artist Leigh Bowery, Taboo Gave Us the Year's Gayest Costumes

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Dressed for Excess: With Boy George Playing Performance Artist Leigh Bowery, Taboo Gave Us the Year's Gayest Costumes

Article excerpt

Broadway offered many queer pleasures in 2003: Hugh Jackman embodying Peter Allen in The Boy Frown Oz, Robert Sean Leonard kissing Scott Foley hl Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, Jefferson Mays dazzling as a German cross-dresser in I Am My Own Wife, the sexually confused puppets in the musical Avenue Q.

But no show's costumes were more out there than the giddily over-the-top spectacles on display in Boy George's Taboo. Designer Mike Nicholls was nominated for an Olivier (Britain's equivalent of the Tony) when it opened in London's West End, and both he and his Broadway collaborator, Bobby Pearce, are likely nominees come Tony time.

Nicholls was very faithful to the spirit of designer Leigh Bowery, who created his original costumes in the '70s and '80s and is played by George in the show. A friend of both artists, Nicholls shopped for fabrics in the same shops Bowery used and then enlisted Bowery's old friends to help with the construction. But for New York, the guiding principle was "bigger and better." (That includes the budget, which Nicholls says went from about $27,000 in the United Kingdom to hundreds of thousands in New York.)

"That's where Bobby was so great, because Bobby knows Broadway and he was able to help me translate that," says Nicholls. "The fabrics got more glittery, and some shapes got slightly exaggerated, even more than they were on Leigh."

Pearce says one of the hardest tasks was re creating these fabulous costumes for a long-running show. …

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