Today I popped along to the Arts Hub, the YMTS base, and had a chat with Jane Rigby our wardrobe mistress extraordinaire who works incredibly hard behind the scenes to make the cast look fantastic on stage. Costumes can add so much to any production – let’s be honest, a bunch of people performing Into the Woods in black jeans and t-shirts would not have a spellbinding effect on the audience. The topsy-turvy fairytale world that the characters inhabit deserves to be brought to life and it’s no surprise that this is what Jane is striving to do. What I saw in the Hub today has got me very excited and I think a musical like Into the Woods serves her creative flare very well.
Let’s see what Jane herself had to say.
“Emma: What I wanted to ask you first is where you might have gathered inspiration from for the costumes? Has it been from any other Into the Woods productions?
Jane: Probably a combination of all main productions: the Broadway original, the Disney Film from earlier this year and the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production.
Emma: Well I saw the jacket that you got the Stepsisters to try on and that reminded me of the outdoor production at Regent’s Park.
Jane: We are definitely going for a steampunk* idea with them and, in fact, we are carrying that theme all the way through with little bits of costume; everyone will have something that’s not quite what they should be wearing within the Victorian era. I think that’s quite quirky.“
“Emma: You put a lot of effort into the costumes for YMTS. I want everyone to be aware of how hard you work. How much of your time does it take to piece together and/or make the costumes?
Jane: For me, I would say if you averaged out the hours that I did, because some days I’ll work more than others, I probably will have done a 15 hour day.
Jane: A 15 hour day within the space of time that I have to get all the costumes together. But also, Amanda knows that if things aren’t there for the first dress rehearsal she knows that they’ll be ready for opening night. I can work quickly but it’s also all about being prepared – I’ve literally got everything cut, ready to sew and I can basically sit here (in the Hub) and do that at a fast pace. It’s actually the little stuff that takes the most time. It’s the time spent getting garments together, outfits together, things that will suit a person and their character and things that won’t suit. Also an idea that you originally had probably won’t look that brilliant so you’ll need to change it and that’s fine because you’ve got to be flexible. And things evolve, ideas evolve and I love that. For instance, the Wolf: we are doing quite a different Wolf from the last YMTS production of the show – but it’s still quite quirky and fun. Because Jacob and Morgan are both playing another part within the show we can’t do face painting or much in that respect like last time, so that has given me an extra challenge. For this production we’ve gone for the “less is more” approach – we are giving them a hint of the wolf rather than transforming them into a full wolf.
Emma: I can see how that will work, particularly with the Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf split.
Emma: Because they were originally portrayed by the same actor anyway.“
“Emma: I know that you won’t have completed all the costumes yet but do you have a favourite so far?
Jane: I really like The Wolf. But I really wanted to have more time to spend on doing the Stepsisters and make them quite unusual. I liked what they wore in the film, I thought they were some of the best costumes in it. I have used that for inspiration and I am kind of going down the same route as the film for them; they’re going to be coming on with the tights, bloomers, petticoats and corsets and then all the other parts of their costume will be added on top. Then throughout the production they will lose or gain certain aspects of their costume – like a fur collar or something.
Emma: I like that.
Jane: I would say they and The Wolf are my favourite… Although, no, I tell a lie – I also think Little Red looks pretty good.“
*Side note: I had to google “steampunk”.
It was great hearing what Jane and how she has conceptualised the costumes. She also let me dress some mannequins so I can give you all a small taster of what she has been working on…
Emma McFarlane – Participant Journalist