Monday, September 24, 2007
This is a perfect example of how costumes truly do evolve throughout the production process. Unbeknownst to the general public, most costume designs are done sometimes weeks prior to the casting of actors. So I could be designing for a completely different body type, skin tone, hair color, & even height. Then when the actors are cast, I work with them to figure out how to maintain my designs (approved by the director first, of course), while making them happy and comfortable. It is all about helping them to feel the character, so I always try my hardest to make them happy. After all, they are the ones that have to wear the same costumes show after show!
I showed Joel the designs for Sylvia and he actually loved them! The concept is combining textured, nubbly sweater looped material mixed with small strips of faux-fur to create the "dog" costume. The first one shows ripped up jeans with faux-fur coming out of the holes.
But it turned out, Cathy hated ponchos, b/c she is very petite, and felt like it would overwhelm her. We went shopping together and found styles that she felt best in. This is how that fisrt costume evolved:
P.S. Unfortunately the sweater Cathy's wearing shrank a little during the dye & distress process, so it was snug on her. But cutting some holes in the sweater helped to ease the tension, so it was fine. :)
Then, Greg takes Sylvia for a beauty treatment. Sylvia's donned the girly costume that is so unlike her to try to please Kate. After Kate shuns her, Sylvia returns to her normal self (see side sketch). This time, she's in a patchwork pullover of fur and sweater materials, and corduroys w/rips in them:
This, again, shows how the pink fur costume did not work out (the fur just was too stiff), and Joel decided he liked her to evoke "French Poodle" after all (he did not want this at first), so I had less than 24 hours to find a dress & add/subtract things to make it work!
As for the patchwork sweater she changes into--I'm very proud of it, as I ended up constructing it myself. The only thing I hated about it was having to cut up a dozen of new sweaters to make it. I know I know, I should be ashamed of myself, being an environmental advocate, but there was simply no time to go thrift on this one!
Anyway, this is a costume showing Sylvia in heat, in the height of her "womanhood"...sadly she gets spayed just right after this. This, too, evolved, as Cathy actually hated wearing fur. Here are photos of the before & after she gets with another dog Bowser!
I don't have a sketch of the last costume, but I was inspired by the new Prada coat, Fall collection. I see Sylvia as the fully domesticated dog that also has a bit of class about her. This coat was built by Karen Curry, and it turned out so well!
Some other production photos, including the famous roles of the upper-east side Phyllis, manly Tom, and the androgynous therapist Leslie (all played by the same man):
*I was thrilled to be working with the well-known Olympic gymnast, Cathy Rigby, who happens to be the wife of Tom McCoy, the man responsible for keeping me working at La Mirada Theater! (Thanks Tom!) In the world of theater, Cathy is perhaps best known for her role as "Peter Pan". Cathy plays Sylvia, the stray dog that main character Greg finds in the park one day. Greg and his wife Kate live in East Side NY, and they are in the midst of their mid-life crises. Having Sylvia complicates things for the couple even more...(play written by A.R. Gurney)
Joel Bishoff was the wonderful director of this play, and the set and lighting were designed by Neil Jampolis, an amazing designer who also happens to be UCLA faculty.
The show opened November 2nd, 2007, at La Mirada Theater, CA.
Los Angeles Theatre Reviews:
November 15, 2007
By Melinda Schupmann
"Costumes by Judy Jou are notable, as Sylvia changes from a scruffy, jeans-clad mongrel to a post-grooming, pink-ruffled poodle. Adding to the whimsy is set designer Neil Peter Jampolis' New York colorful skyline and modern apartment."