Magazine article Variety

Clothes Call for Plays Set in the Past

Magazine article Variety

Clothes Call for Plays Set in the Past

Article excerpt

LONG LIVE THE PERIOD piece. From time travel to a revival of a beloved romantic comedy about pen pals set in Hungary to a contemporary twist on the American revolution, this year's nominees for costume design in a musical had their work cut (and stitched) out for them as they each custom built their shows' wardrobes.

Ann Roth tackled the roaring 1920s in "Shuffle Along" while Jeff Mahshie recreated the 1930s in "She Loves Me" starring Zachary Levi, Laura Benanti, and Jane Krakowski.

"The beginning of the period looks different from the end of the period, but it's nuanced by the lengths of the hems or the width of the brims of the hats," says Mahshie, who examined the work of designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet. "You're going from art nouveau to art deco. It's a very specific time, postwar. It was also the invention of the bis cut."

The first-time Tony nominee created more than 140 costumes using fabrics like crepe, chiffon, georgette, and velvet. But one particu- lar look proved challenging - a dress Krakowski would wear while throwing her leg over her head before going into a split. The compromise was a design that the actress could snap off mid-routine.

Based on Natalie Babbitt's children's novel,"Tuck Everlasting" spans over 150 years from 1805 through i960. Despite the elapses in time, the production team wanted to keep wardrobe changes to a minimum.

"You want it to be romantic and have a lovely lyrical quality, but it shouldn't be a big pageant of costume changes," says Gregg Barnes, who created pieces from sheer muslin, taffeta, and even refashioned old lace curtains. "You want to make sure that the clothes have a varied quality, so that they keep revealing themselves through out the night."

The result? Barnes got crafty. He utilized a pale fabric that allowed for light projection. …

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