From the debut show at Belmont’s Troutt Theatre in summer 2007, my favorite Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing!
This show’s costumes were designed by the awesome Franne Lee and we made almost everything out of tablecloths and random fabric from the flea market.
My favorite story from this play, we had a method actor just come off of an emotionally grueling Mamet play and go into playing the jolly patriarch, Leonato. So he went from a diet of cigarettes and coffee to being this robust Italian papa! We kept having to let out his pants! I think I added 10 inches overall before the show closed. Madness!
Later that year, I helped Franne with a Christmas at Belmont dance segment. That year it was broadcast live on national TV from the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall here in Nashville.
We had so much fun using this sparkly, ombre chiffon, not as challenging to work with as we’d feared, actually. We bought every inch of it that JoAnn fabric had in the Middle Tennessee area! (And we had one spare skirt that I ended up with. *squee!*)
We *think* the girls were supposed to represent candlelight…or starlight…or the Star of Bethlehem…or angels…or creation itself… they just told us to make them look like golden light. It got a bit pagan in there, but it was a really creative set of costumes to make. I am sucker for constructing stuff that’s make to move and flutter. Franne picked all the fabric, I did all the heavy-lifting: pattern drafting, sewing, fitting, alterations.
In 2008 we did an amazing post-apocalyptic sort of Hamlet. once again, I was Franne’s assistant designer. We had so much fun with materials! Gave Gertrude these crepe silk hakama/palazzo pants and a kimono, Hamlet’s father’s ghost looked like Fidel Castro with mirrored aviator shades and mylar strips stapled to a leather trenchcoat, and we gave Hamlet a fencing vest made of oven-mitt material. Horatio had a blue 1940s era overcoat with these “wings” attached (I now own the coat, sans wings) and Ophelia was drowning in her own dress made of two blankets dyed and pleated into an ever-widening gown. The side characters were played by an ensemble who needed to appear as “spirits” and make a lot of quick costume changes by throwing on various garments and accessories, Franne and I devised these one-piece cowl-necked outfits we dubbed “Shimmies” (because you had to step into the neck and shimmy into it!) made of this luscious rayon knit that also depleted the entire stock of every JoAnns in the area code. One of the most fun design projects I have ever gotten to tackle!
Create eleven authentic 17th century costumes in 6 weeks with minimal help in a basement with no HVAC during a broiling heat wave while pregnant? All in a day’s work!
My final show at Belmont was 2010’s Tartuffe and it was its own brand of fun!
The Habitat For Humanity store had all this trim on sale for like 25 cents a yard. Franne bought it all.
The one thing this show taught me above all else: I could totally handle Project Runway!