Hello, m’dears! 🙂
I am still moving backwards in my attempt to catch up with the whirlwind of past months.
November was Insane. (Good insane, but still…) After much ado and drama—this time mostly among the directors and adults—(sheesh!) we decided that the fall musical would be “Cats”. This was a high risk choice, in that it is such a period piece, some of the music so overdone yet very difficult, and it had the potential of being a Terribly Bad Embarrassing Fail especially at an amateur high school level.
There was much eye-rolling and discouragement from other music directors around town, objections from parents (“Our son is a senior, this would have been his last high school musical, and he will not be in a cat-suit on stage. Therefore, we are not writing the $2,500 check we were planning on giving the theatre department this year.”)
A few talented music students protested that it was a really dumb choice and chose to skip try-outs for the musical. Much to my disappointment, anti-“Cats” snark was spread from a few of my graduated costumers to my younger, more impressionable core crew, and the whole thing seemed doomed from the start.
I have to admit that my instant reaction to doing “Cats” involved some dismay at the thought of the quintessential spandex and fur costumes. BUT. That was short-lived. The director had something different in mind for this musical. She is a genius and I trusted her vision for whatever this piece would be. Without changing any of the music, she wanted to bring the show into a more current concept—modeled on kind of an “American Idol So You Think You’ve Got Talent" contest among the cats. The winner (of course Grizzabella) is awarded the final prize of going to the “Heavyside Layer.”
“So how about no airbrushed spandex?” I asked the director hopefully, “No fake fur?” She looked at me with dancing eyes “We are not held to those costume concepts in the contract. You can do what ever you want!” So then, of course, my head exploded. Dance-able Artwear…layers of lightweight t-shirt fabrics-maybe shredded and slashed…yet using anthropomorphic head-pieces and make-up…..*ping-ping-ping* went my brain!
We posted these preliminary sketches on our call-board before try-outs, which helped clue-in those auditioning that this concept was not to be quite the same circa 1980’s production.
Despite the mini-boycott of a few of our more seasoned musical theatre students, we cast a younger group of wonderful and talented actor/singers.
28 students signed up to be on the costume crew. TWENTY EIGHT! I gave them my preliminary “Ms. Kari Rules”, thinking that it would scare about a third of them off. But O, brave souls–they proved to be a fearless and tenacious bunch. And much to my delight, extremely talented! I divided them into three teams and off we went.
Some of the above sketches were fully realized, but the rest of the costumes were a combination of happy accidents, team collaboration and total brilliance. I spent most of my time honing and polishing the wild and wonderful ideas that were coming to life, making sure we stayed with our color palette, and helping to figure out How.
Here’s a bit of what we did.
<img height=”360″ alt=”” width=”257″ src=”http://pics.opendiary.com/C100974//Costumeseven.jpg” />
By show week, the combination of extraordinary talents—an outstanding orchestra, spot-on voices, spectacular choreography, whimsical costumes, perfect lighting, and exacting direction all totaled Magic. Audiences shot to their feet in wild applause and shouts, emails poured in, articles appeared in the newspaper, and the awe-struck nay-sayers happily Ate Their Words. Heh!
The musical was a Triumph.