As you all know, American Music Theatre's Christmas Show opened over the weekend. I currently work there as the resident Costume Designer and Wardrobe Manager and I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE what I do. I got into costume design completely by chance, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I've learned a LOT over the last few years, so if you ever have any questions about how things are done, please feel free to leave a comment or email. Today I want to post a few pictures from the show because I'm really happy with how it came out. The first section of the show is like a Victorian post card. It's a very energetic opening, followed by several beautiful arrangements of contemporary and traditional Christmas songs. The dancers are busy in the beginning with just about every style of dance. I honestly don't know how they do it in the heavy dresses I've put them in:
The singers don't have it any easier with full length gowns in heavy brocades and velvets, not to mention the men in all their layers, plus wigs and hats- it's a lot to pull together, but I'm happy with the outcome:
There are so many capes and muffs, and even additional dresses for some of the singers who have to quick change into them before their next song. After the Victorian section of the show, we move on to "Christmas Around the World." This section cracks me up- there's a Swedish Chef food fight on stage, a man in full Can-can drag, and Irish step dance, O Tannenbaum sung in its original German and a Caribbean limbo game complete with audience participation. It really flies by. My favorite costumes are the French Can-Can dresses that were made by one of my seamstresses, Vanessa. She really rocked these dresses and I hope she's as proud as I am of how they look:
It's hard to tell in the picture, but the dresses are lined with sequin fabric and over a dozen layers of red and green ruffles. They're really fun. (P.S. Isn't my friend Jen a babe?) Another standout performer in my opinion is Todd Mitchell who sings the above-mentioned "O Tannenbaum." I think he actually likes his lederhosen:
Oh! I almost forgot to mention the "Frosty the Snowman" number with another fabulous dancer, Samantha. She starts off in a huge snowman costume and then is revealed as the "Sexy Frosty" and literally burns up the floor with her spectacular tapping. I honestly have no idea how her feet move as fast as they do. She's ridiculous.
Act two has my favorite part of the show. "Shelly," a little girl character who appears in nearly every AMT Christmas show (played by Michelle Mishler), spends the beginning of the act on a magical trip to Toyland where she discovers a woman in a light-up dress (sorry no picture yet), as well as dancing and singing elves, and of course, Santa Claus.
The Toyland Elves were my favorite costumes to work on for several reasons. First, just look at them! The fabrics alone are super fun- so much color and pattern. Also, I loved creating outfits for each person rather than have all matching elves because then the costumes could reflect each person's unique personality. For example, my good friend Brance (in orange and yellow above) used to do this "leg guitar" trick, so when I chose his wig, I purposely picked one that was styled like Elvis only in a bright, funny color. The elves are not traditional looking elves because the backdrop the scenic designer chose was styled much like Who-ville, so I thought that stylized elves would work best as opposed to the traditional ones we're all used to seeing.
Finally, the last section of the show is very presentational, and I love that style of show as well because it means I get to shop for beautiful gowns, snazzy tuxes, sparkly shoes and jewelry. Let's be honest- who wouldn't want to shop for gorgeous clothing? For the performers, it means singing a song in one gown or suit, then running off stage to quickly change into their next formal outfit- it's like the prom on over-drive. One of our singers, Angela Birchett, is fun to dress because her skin tone works really well with just about any color. I love to put her in rich jewel tones like this aubergine:
I chose the color combination of gold and white for the final song in the show because it complemented the scenic design which was- you guessed it- gold and white. Once again, I enjoyed choosing a "look" for each person as opposed to being very matchy-matchy. You can see each woman in the cast has her own style of gown. It's hard to tell in the picture, but each man also has his own color and style of vest, tie and pocket silk combination, although their suits are all the same white tuxedo with white patent shoes. I think they look pretty sharp, myself.
I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into costume world. If you live in the area (Lancaster, PA) and would like to see the show, drop me an email or a comment. It's a great family show- the singing and dancing is spectacular, there's something for everyone and it moves along quickly, so kids and adults are entertained throughout. It's directred and choreographed by Curt Dale Clark and Marc Robin, who also live locally here in Lancaster and who work at the Fulton Theatre downtown.
P.S. All pictures are by Ken Bruggeman and courtesy of AMT