Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Driving Miss Daisy"

Shot of well-known Ms. Michael Learned ("The Waltons" in the '70s) playing "Daisy", and Mr. Lance Nichols as "Hoke", the chauffeur.

This is a show I designed concurrently with "A Thousand Clowns", but thankfully "Clowns" wrapped up first. I started designing Daisy, and am going for a paper-doll design concept, which basically means the characters do not change their basic first costume, but instead, would be changing accessories. So this sketch is Daisy's only dress that she will wear throughout the play, and I will post the accessory changes later.

To show Brian the sketches though, I have tracing paper laid over the original "doll" to show the progression of the changes.
Here are the sets of sketches for Daisy:

And some nice production shots!

Sketches for Hoke (including the basic costume):

Last but not least, the beautiful set by John:

Another really nice review from Steven Stanley of

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"A Thousand Clowns"

This is one of the shows that I have been working on since "Sylvia" ended. The story takes place in the early 60s. Here's a brief synopsis found on the theater site ( :

"Murray Burns, a bachelor uncle with a non-conformist approach to life, is raising his precocious 12 year old nephew. Tired of writing cheap comedy for children's television, he finds himself unemployed and wandering through the streets of New York City, observing life. Social Services drops in to ensure that the nephew is receiving a proper upbringing. Murray, threatened with loosing his nephew, comes to terms with his life, his work, and a significant Social Worker, all the while maintaining his ideals." (play written by Herb Gardner)

I actually really enjoyed the story, and felt that it taught me a lot about even my own life.

The show will open on Jan. 25th, 2008 at Hillbarn in Foster City, CA. But I am aiming to have everything done by 12/15--next weekend!

Well, here are some sketches I have been meaning to put up.
LATEST update: I was nominated for Audience Choice award for best costume design!

Leo Herman, who plays "Chuckles the Chipmunk" in the tv show, appears on stage with a hat that has a chipmunk inside. I designed it to look like a tree trunk. Gail is building the hat for me, so we'll see how that turns out!

I wanted Murray in a pineapple print Hawaiian shirt b/c later on in the story he carries a pineapple to his brother Arnold, who actually usually is the one to bring fruit to him daily b/c he's obsessed with fruits...anyway, I'm excited about the shirt I got from ebay!

Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Fence"-short film

One word: Copperopolis. This was a remote town located about 2.5 hours NE of San Francisco. The weather was a consistent 110 degrees everyday, except for nights, but I was with the most amazing group of people on set, so it made it all fun! I had the privilege of working with Matt Silas, who now works for Pixar, and Quyen Tran, the DP, who I had worked with twice before this, but who I was excited to spend 4 1/2 days straight with. Of course, there was the beautiful children of the cast, Lizzie & Lexi, their lovely moms, and Trey McCurly...whose stories from Oklahoma (or was it Alabama?...) we were all fascinated with.

There are simply too many people to name and too much to say--so I'll sum it up with one word (again): "Copperopolis". I miss it so much.

Photo credits: Q, and myself. More to come soon!
shoot days I was there for: Aug 31~Sept 4/2007

note: Since this is my professional site, I don't normally post pictures of people I work with, but this was the BEST picture from Copperopolis! You couldn't have gotten people to make those faces even if you tried! I'm usually pretty shy so to have a shocked look on my face captured on film is a bit...well, embarrassing. But I won't tell you which one is me! ;)

The scenario: There were 2 cameras going at once, and as it turned out the first camera was precariously placed on the back of the truck, and started to fall off the platform! (we're talking a camera worth a few thousand $!). So the second camera (also placed on the same truck, but much more stable) went off right then and captured the moment. :) Good job everyone!


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."

Another review:

Sunday, September 23, 2007


What a show this was--this would mark the end of my MFA career at UCLA. It was certainly a challenge for me to work as I go, w/o designing everything in full detail, like I normally like to go about things...and I think it turned out really wonderfully.

Since the story takes place during the French Revolution and is set in an insane asylum, my concept was to have the costumes look like they were done by the patients themsevles, when given only gauze strips and leather pieces. I sewed lots of buckles & leather straps, as well as knotted & twisted, dyed & distressed the yards and yards of cotton gauze. It was fun!
Set was done by my favorite Francois-Pierre Couture, a good friend of mine from UCLA. Gotta love that guy for giving me a wonderful backdrop to the costumes! Good collaboration indeed!
some production photos (photos by FP):

some sketches: