I started collecting ideas for the design of Into the Woods months in advance, occasionally remembering to pin things to a Pinterest board. Initially, I was headed in a DisneyBound sort of a direction, and planned to costume all of the characters in off-the-rack street clothes that were inspired by their classic looks (whether Disney or not)....but somewhere along the way, my interest in steampunk really amped up, and I decided that as a design concept, it really worked with the show, thematically.
Steampunk is a fairly modern concept, really only dating back to the 1950s or '60s. The word "steampunk" was first used in the late 1980's, as a play on "cyberpunk." It basically refers to a future that never was; the future that we, today, imagine that the Victorians might have imagined, based on the technology available to them at that time (steam-powered, for the most part). Confusing? Don't overthink it. It's just meant to be fun, and a excuse to wear corsets and top hats and make things with lots of gears.
Anyway, I started thinking about the characters and stories of Into the Woods, and how even though the stories have been around for hundreds of years, and even though we all have a picture in our heads of what the classic Little Red Riding Hood or Rapunzel looks like, they are timeless characters, timeless stories, timeless lessons to be learned. Tolerance, understanding, love, parenting, self-discovery.....despite the fairy tale trappings, Into the Woods is a show that makes you think about what it's like to really live in the really real world. So I just thought that by setting these characters into a world that never really was would let the audience focus on how these themes applied to their own lives today, rather than assigning them to a specific place and time that they don't relate to.
Did this concept translate? Did the audience have any idea where my head was? Did my cast, or even my creative team? I'm not sure. I'm sometimes not very good at explaining myself. But I do know we had lots and lots of fun putting this show on the stage.
Obviously, I had to delegate a lot of the work on this show to my terrific costumer, Heather, and my amazing prop builder, Ginger, and deal with boring things like blocking and character development. Hee. But I did manage to claim some of the fun projects for myself, and spent many happy summer days at my kitchen table, sewing and hot gluing and generally attaching gears to things.
|Anything can happen in the woods.|
|One of my favorite ensemble costumes. Totally thrift-stored, and then |
accessorized with goggles, a pair of leather cuffs, and some
totally sweet, 20-year-old oxblood Doc Marten's that belong to his dad.
|Three Little Pigs|
|Wolf mask, in progress. Gold-painted vinyl mounted on black fun foam.|
|Completed wolf mask.|
I needed a lot of boots for this show. A LOT. And as it turned out, I needed a lot of brown boots for this show. And apparently no one has brown boots. So I did what I had to do, and turned some black boots brown. I totally fell in love with how these boots turned out, and one of these days, when I have nothing else to do, I'm going to buy lots of thrift store shoes and play around with different colors. It was simple, if messy (and somewhat stinky). Start with nail polish remover on a cloth, and rub it all over the leather to remove any top coat or finish that might be on the surface. Then: bleach. Straight up bleach. Wear gloves if you like (I am sure you know already whether I bothered) and work outside (don't ask if I did). It takes a bit of elbow grease, and if you can let them sit overnight or longer, the bleach will keep working long after you quit. Once you're satisfied that you've removed as much black as you can, polish them up with some brown show polish. The really great thing about doing this is you can get a really nice distressed finish, and you can control where and how much "wear" your shoes or boots have.
|Probably should have gotten brown laces....|
|The Harp. On the most magical night of performances, when Jack carried her out|
under his arm and set her down on the stage, when she stuck her arm out and
showed the strings, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. For the costume.
In addition to the ensemble, as it turned out, I costumed the Baker and the Baker's Wife myself. One was almost completely built from scratch, and the other almost completely off the rack...but they ended up looking fairly made for each other.
|The Baker's Wife and the Baker.|
I just signed on to costume a production of Shrek next summer, which I'm very excited about. I hope I can remind myself to take more photos! Thanks to Jeff for providing me with most of these.