Friday, July 30, 2010

The Last Hurrah!

Don't turn me in as an unpatriotic American! This is not my new political preference, for sure. It is the last costume completed on the afternoon of opening night before "The Producers" go on stage for the first public performance!

The play within the play of "The Producers" is the supposedly worst play ever written, called "Springtime For Hitler". The producers realize they can make more money by putting a flop on stage than a hit, and try this carefully crafted scheme by finding the worst script, worst director, and worst cast for their venture. Things take a different turn when "Springtime For Hitler" turns out to be a critically acclaimed show!

The beautiful song "Springtime for Hitler" is sung by the German officer. It is quite a pretty song, if only the subject of the song wasn't such a despicable person! This jacket is what the German Officer tenor will be wearing, with his sparkly swastika armband. His beautiful $75 hat is the crowninng glory of this costume! (See June 22, 2010 post "Achtung!" to see the hat.) And he truly sings beautifully.

I knew that this costume job was going to be a challenge. About 3 days ago, the challenge was almost ready to break me! I definitely shed blood (how many pin pricks did I endure, with some evidence on several of the costumes), sweat (even though I am using new deodorant, I gave it quite a challenge because the day started about 5 in the morning, and often ended after 10 p.m. and I didn't smell that great!), and tears ( I shed many on Tuesday when the 4th attempt to do headdresses failed and fell on the floor!)

My frieds called me crazy, my daughter says "don't call me to do this again", my neighbors have had to look at a very shabby looking yard because I've done very little outside work this summer. One professional costumer said to me, "I'd never agree to costume that show!" I guess I now know why. But I do enjoy challenges, and this one was certainly a challenge. On Monday, I felt like it all looked like crap, but as the mood got better, the objectivity returned, and now I'm pretty pleased with the results.

My perennial bio for programs is "I like to dress talented people who enjoy looking good"/ And that is why I do this.

When I get some professional shots of the various scenes, I'll share them. But right now, it's raining cats and dogs, the sky is dark and I'm very tired, so the only thing to do in a case like this is to TAKE A NAP!

See for ticket information or call 314-921-5678 for tickets.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Girls In Pearls.

Leo Bloom, mild-mannered accountant, dreams the dream of getting out of his hum-drum world and doing something exciting in life. His friend, Max Bialystock, tries to convince him that the life of a Broadway producer is what Leo should try, lettig Leo break the chains of a boring life. Leo, timid and carrying a piece of his blue blankie from his youth as his security blanket, sits at his accounting desk and dreams of being a producer, and what he would experience.

Poppinng out of the background of the office furniture, 7 beautiful ladies dressed in pearls come to dance for Leo, so in his dreams, he IS A PRODUCER, and he sings, "I Want To Be A Producer" as they dance.

Here's how those costumes evolved.

Concept without much embellishment, modeled by darling CB! Lots of promise here, for both the costume and the actress!
Back view of bustle with roses
Close up of the pearls after they were applied to the top.
The finished look
This box was full of pearls. Originally, I had intended to put 20 strands on each garment. For various reasons, that didn't happen, these are the leftovers--I see a lot of pearl necklaces in my future of jewelry making.

Beading these garments takes anywhere from 6-10 hours to complete. There are 7 of them. I've spend days at the kitchen table, working with other little beaders, to complete them. I think the beads are sewn on securely, because my worst nightmare is that one of the strands breaks off and scatters pearls all over the place. NO, NO NIGHTMARE PLEASE, GOD OF COSTUMES, PLEASE BE WITH US ON THIS ONE!

They are almost complete, need to gather the remaining garments from other seamstresses today, and hopefully they'll look gorgeous on stage.

This is the WURST!

Iconic, stereotypical, expected...these are some words that come to mind when thinking about what was going through Mel Brooks wild and crazy mind when he wrote "The Producers". Basing his premise on a crazy notion of putting on a show featuring one of the most despicable men who ever lived (Adolf Hitler), Mel tries to show us a crazy stereotypical view of a world that we might not envision. The fun side of a dark side, that is how I would characterize this show.

Some of the iconic images are shown as showgirls parade in, Las Vegas style, to show parts of Germany, as they sing the theme song, "Springtime for Hitler". A beautiful song, about something we don't often think of as beautiful.

Here's one of the iconic images you might have about Germany--WURST! When I think of German food, of course, I think of sausages. Put that with beer, pretzels, and you have Mel Brooks crazy theme that lets us know about his chosen topic.

Funny thing, the showgirls wear these on their heads as they come in!

These were totally fun to make, just like stuffing real sausages! Made me want to get out the buns and mustard!
German engineering needed here to make this work, but I think I have something going here, with a little more work!

It will be a fun show, the cast was on stage for the first time last night, and things looked good so far. Sets are great, costumes are still needing some help, but maybe we'll make it. Only a week until opening night!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


We've been working at our projects, seeming to make slow progress toward finishing the costumes for "The Producers". I've had helpers during the last 3 days, and although certain projects aren't fully completed, we are a lot closer to being done than we were at the beginning of the week.

Monday--SB and her darling talented daughter C, came and worked. S and I have costumed together in the past year, and we do well together on the costume team. She helped me design the Prisoners of Love skirts, and took them all home to finish them. C did a cutting job beautifully, of course, and she was our model for the previous post photo of the prototype costumes.

Tuesday--not much done today on costumes, except to purchase some potential garments for the Streetwalkers. Try ons at practice, which was successful. Had to go to work twice, which was non-productive, both with costuming as well as getting any work done.

Wednesday--Seemed like the wheels were spinning in mud today, but ES came up and we worked on a officer uniform that is for a dazzling gay guy, it will be bedazzeld with sequins and other jewels, befitting of his character. Finished the pants, but not the shirt, and other than that, not much else got done. Wearing out!

Thursday--spent 5 hours in the morning cutting various sets of costumes. This is the task I hate the most, I could sew all night and day, but cutting requires thinking and it is difficult for me to make myself do it! Got one Prisoner of Love bodysuit done, plus a muslin for Roger DeBris' Chrysler building dress to try on at practice. Fitting went well, now I have a plan for tomorrow.

Friday--had a whole studio of artists working together today. Got up early to finish a body suit for the pearl sewer, finished hemming the bottoms of that set of costumes. Made Roger DeBris basic dress, which will be changed into something spectacular by another artist. Daughter SH came and started sewing pearls on the I Want To Be A Producer costumes, and she was doing a great job of getting them straight and sewed on very securely. I was impressed. ES showed her ability to draft a design and then make a pattern for her decoration of the Chrysler building dress, Very excellent work. And GW came, measured, cut, serged my Little Old Lady skirts, so we can put in the waistbands. Plus, she and I worked on completing a prototype of the main showgirls gold lycra bodysuits. I was very glad she was there, because it needed a great deal of altering to make it fit correctly. She was willing to strip down a half-dozen times to get it to fit correctly. It is almost OK, if I get a chance, I'll make another one for her. I think I have enough fabric.

MHS, my other darling daughter, brought her finished project to my house, 8 pearl chokers and darling cameos that she created for two numbers.

My friend Dr. J and I went to see our model CB in a production called "Lepers", a staged reading production. CB is only 13 but is already showing great promise as a strong character actress. SB, CB's very proud mama, costumed the show, AND finished my Prisoner's of Love skirts that she took home Monday, which I picked up last night after the show. Happy day, one part of one production number finished!

The theatre is a small space in a mall that has only one retail store left in it, but the arts community has convinced the owners to rent out the empty stores for studios for dance, acting, and various visual art forms. It also has one restaurant, which we ate at, and found the food to be very good! If all the places in this mall were open at once, it would be a very interesting space to visit. But I've been there several times, and you could only salivate over what was locked up in the closed storefronts. I would like to go back when some of the studios were open. If only I could figure out when that was.

Today, my friend SE is coming up from my Smalltown in Mid-Missouri, and she will be bringing some completed things that she has been working on at home, and we will work today on various projects, myself on bodysuits and show girl costumes, she on a uniform or two. Plus some finishing jobs that need to be done.

So, I guess projects are being worked toward completion, I still wish all my bodysuits were finished, wonder how many I can finish in two days? I want to be done with them by Monday. 7 Prisoners of Love, 5 I Want to Be a Producer tops, and 4 gold lycra body suits. I ought to be pretty good at making them after all that practice!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Day the Music Died

I am listening to the last 15 minutes of music that is broadcast on my favorite radio station, 99.1 KFUO-FM, St. Louis. This station has been a part of my life for the past 65 years. My parents always listened to this station, and it fostered my love for classical music.

I remember my father never missed the opera on Saturday afteroon, which has been broadcast on this station. As my father aged and in his last years, listening to the radio and this station ONLY was one of his greatest pleasures.

When I was a teenager, and others were listening to Elvis and the Everly Brothers, I was listening to Ravel, Debussy and Gershwin. I remember to this day a memorable day in which not "Rock Around the Clock" was playing in my head, but Gershwin's "Concerto in F". How wierd is that for a teenager?

All through my adult life, classical music has been my favorite, always been on the car radio dial. My grandson asked me once, "Grandma, what song is this?" He hadn't ever heard that kind of music before!

They choose Beethoven's 9th Symphony as their last recording to broadcast. They are singing the choral part right now, so it won't be long until they pull the plug.

The station was owned and operated by the Lutheren Church, Missouri Synod. As costs increased and budgets grew tighter, the church decided it had to sell the station, hoping some entity would keep the classical music format. But no, someone bought it and it will be Christian music as of tomorrow morning.

Beethoven just finished and there is nothing but dead air now. For me it is the day the music died, and I lost a piece of my past with it. I am sobbing right now at the loss.

We are all poorer when the arts cannot be supported and nurtured as this station did for the last 65 years. With all the art lovers in this town, why couldn't someoe save this for us? Christian music has its place, but there are plenty of Christian music stations in the area, but now no classical music stations, unless you have a satellite radio.

Now, static, it is gone forever. I am extremely sad.

Guess I'll be calling XM Sirius tomorrow. 99.1 will no longer be on my radio dial. Someone told me that the NPR station, which gave up classical music decades ago, may recosider and dedicate a portion of their daily programming to classical music, that will be something for us to look forward to.

The grind goes on

These are the prototypes of the costumes I've designed for "The Producers". Each of these will be part of the big chorus numbers in the show.

Little Old Lady Land--14 costumes for this number. They dance in using walkers, and by the end of the number they are kicking up their heels big time!
German military outfit for women--men will be dressed similarly, but will wear black pants. This is the big number, "Springtime for Hitler"
I want to be a Producer--girls in pearls--7 of them the bodices will be covered with pearls.
Prisoners of Love--8 of them are dressed like this, the men are in prisoners costumes.

I haven't posted in a while because most every waking moment has been spent in the sewing room producing! I hope I don't run out of time, right now, it looks scary to think if I will possibly get finished in time!

Wish Me luck.