A costume drama is a term sometimes used for a period piece, set in Victorian England, for example. I’ve encountered my own version of costume dramas.
Sometimes it’s a wardrobe malfunction, like the time during Blythe Spirit my arm got trapped between the sleeve and the shoulder pad of a jacket during a quick change and I had to go on stage before being able to fix it. I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to button my jacket and might have to spent the entire scene Napoleon style, with one arm clutching my clothing. Even other actors would come pat me on the shoulder on stage and try to rearrange my outfit, all to no avail.
I’m still proud of my 32 second dress, hat and wig change during Once Upon a Mattress. Each night I’d begin pulling things off the nanosecond I was off stage, tossing my hat and belt, stepping out of my dress, and then into another which was carefully laid out on the floor. Two people helped, one on the zipper, one on the wig, and with my feet hardly stopping, I made it on stage every night – sometimes with time to spare.
Most of the real drama involves creating costumes for others. I once made a dress for an actress who was trying to lose weight. Each week she wanted me to take her dress in another inch or so. What was I thinking that I repeatedly obliged?
A wedding dress was ordered for Jekyll & Hyde, and opening night was approaching fast. With only 2 days to go, we learned the dress wasn’t coming after all. In a daze, I contemplated sewing a wedding gown in two days. This isn’t Project Runway! I sewed until 6 AM that first night, and had it done in time. I sat in the dressing room during Act I sewing on buttons so the dress would be ready to be worn by Act II. Never again.
I have hot glued trim on a costume while someone was wearing it, gone onstage myself with a zipper pinned in place (something I’d never ask someone else to do!), and pulled clothes out of my own closet for others to wear more times than I can count. It’s all about looking good, just like Amneris from Aida who claims that “Dress has always been (her) strongest suit.” Next up for me – lots of chiffon and rhinestones for Xanadu! I have a feeling I’ll be vacuuming a lot of glitter.