Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stage Mommies and Costumes

I never actually got to see "Annie" at the Palace, even though they extended the run. I know they probably would have found a spot for me, but the website said "Sold Out," so I didn't take the chance of driving up there. I did look at the pictures on line, though, and this one is a shot of the Orphans in the Orphanage.

Disclaimer: we did not design these costumes.

Nothing against the costumes, and, with three casts of orphans, they couldn't have been expected to fit all the kids who wore them all that well. We were told that the director made them. She offered to take care of the orphans, because there was a SNAFU with the measurements, and we had something like a week to design three casts of Annie costumes. We were like, "Oh, yes...PLEASE take care of the orphans!"

However, somebody told me in the past couple of days that some of the mommies of these little girls were grumbling. You see, The Palace requires that each actor pays $25 toward the cost of his or her costumes. The mommies were saying that $25 seemed a bit steep for nothing but rags.


Excuse me?

A complete child's costume rents individually for up to $45 from the shop. that would include the dress, knickers, pinafore, and shoes. Maybe socks or leggings, as well. A hat, scarf, gloves and coat, if such should be required. When you look at it like that, $25 is not so much.

Never mind that, in the 1930s, when "Annie" is set, orphans did not go around in "rags." The children would have been decently, though institutionally, dressed. The orphans from "Oliver" are much more raggedy, in an 1840s sort of way. As well, "rags" require just as much designing and building as any other sort of costume. We don't just fish them out of the trunks of our cars and behind our dryers and cobble them together, you know...and they still have to fit in with the palette of the show.

The fact remains that, if we had designed the costumes, they would have been custom-fitted to each child, and not quite so "generic." Lord knows, the directer did the best she could...among the other scores of things she had to do in order to mount one of the most complex and profitable productions ever produced at The Palace.

But, I have to wonder if the mommies were happy that they saved $25--particularly when they saw the costumes for the rest of the show!

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