An Interview with Summer Berry Costume Designer for Beauty and The Beast

 

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M.Hoffman: Tell me more about your process of design for Beauty and The Beast! 

Berry: Process is very important in the journey of costume design. The research, the vision of the production as a whole, and the resources that are available all play a part in my process. I didn’t want to make this look like the cartoon movie but I fully embraced the fact that there are some elements that I just had to bring to the stage that the audience was expecting, only I gave them my spin or twist as the designer. There had to be the famous gown and I found a very rich gold crepe back satin that would hold and reflect light and drape in a graceful manner.  Belle’s gown was like it’s own character.

I spent all of July designing and engineering the enchanted characters, china plates, napkins, Salt and Pepper, and of course the very tall forks. All of these costumes had to look like these objects, be worn by actors, and then be worn to dance. The dancing is so important in this show and Heidy Cartwright has a way of making actors really good dancers. We had many talks about the designs and I made some prototypes so the space on stage and movement was not a surprise come first dress rehearsal. I made prototypes of the wardrobe and the clock from the dimensions the rental company sent me. The actors got the chance to work in those for a few weeks before the real ones arrived.

Hoffman: Tell me more about the extra special details that went into Beauty and The Beast?

Berry: Details are important in my designs and I would have liked to have added more but there is only so much time. Bridget, a local artist that had worked here at the Civic for some time, painted the red roses on the pointe shoes. My intern, Isabella painted the china plates and napkins to my specs beautifully. The forks were the most complicated of the enchanted world and so worth the time and energy. One of my past GU students, now good friend, came for a visit and stepped in to add the details on the fork handles. 

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Hoffman: I really enjoy the Gaston character. Tell me more about his costume.

Gaston‘s needs were pretty involved but from the stage probably don’t read that way. I made him a body shirt to cover his tattoo art and of course he had to have a hairy chest. To make that happen I bought a natural chest hair patch and sewed it to the shirt.

 

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 Hoffman: What was your favorite piece to design?

Berry: I really had fun creating this show’s costumes and if I had to pick one favorite, which is very difficult, it was Babette the feather duster. She too had a prototype for rehearsals for weeks since she had to tango. 

Hoffman: Keeping the characters looking good night after night doesn’t just happen magically.  Tell us more about the process of maintaining, washing and repairing clothes during a show.

Berry: Musicals always require weekly maintenance; no one likes wearing dirty costumes. One of the challenges is keeping all the pieces looking like they did opening night during a five-week run. Not easy. I do the best I can, try to anticipate what might happen, and what to have as a back up.

 

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 Hoffman: Thanks for sharing some secrets of the costuming process! Anything else you want us to know?

 Berry: I think about each actor as I am creating their costume and it brings me great joy when they put them on the first time and walk on stage a changed person. I enjoy being a part of the story telling. Theatre is story telling. The actor and the audience deserve my best work and that is what I strive for in all the shows I design and build.

PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS WOOLEY AT HEADS AND TAILS PHOTOGRAPHY

OUTSpoken Preps You for ‘SORDID LIVES’

The guys over at OUTSpoken are getting ready for SORDID LIVES (opening this Friday) and will be here for our SOLD OUT opening! Sordid Lives runs January 29 – February 21, 2016 in our Studio Theatre!

Here’s a bit of what they had to say about Sordid Lives in popular culture from their January 24 show:

Do you have your tickets yet?

[Audio Credit: OUTSpoken/ARU: a Creative Company ]

STAY TUNED FOR A VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR LANCE BABBITT, AND OUR “TY”, JOHN MICHAEL COLLINS!

“Orphans” at Nationals: Billy Hultquist

The Orphans Trek to Michigan

The Orphans company is settled in for their week at the AACTFest 15 Nationals competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan – and this morning, they kick off the performance festivities by presenting very first!

Update from the Road: Billy Hultquist

Billy Hultquist, who plays Treat in our production, sent us some photos and a message from the road, to help give the community an idea of what they’ve been up to, and what this experience means to him.

Here’s what Billy had to say:

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The Actors’ View. Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

This is our view to the audience at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

We had our tech rehearsal today and it went extremely well.  We are ready to kick this festival off!!

The one thing I am in constant reminder of is the unbelievable generosity of the Spokane community.  Not only are we here representing Spokane Civic Theatre, but we are representing all of our friends, family and most of all, Spokane, WA!

This once in a lifetime opportunity is only getting better and better by every passing minute and I am so grateful for this chance to be able to do what I love not only for myself and my family, but for everyone who has believed in me from the start. Troy Nickerson, Kevin Kuban, Chris Wooley, Toni Cummins, Susan Hardie, Heather McHenry-Kroetch, Janelle Frisque, Dawn Taylor Reinhardt, George Green, and Marianne McLaughlin to name the directors that have given me a chance to shine.

And to my two boys, Taylor and Cody… if you want something bad enough GO GET IT!!!  Ignore the haters because despite what they may say… Dreams Can Come True!!!

I love you all and hope to make you proud.

Goodnight from Grand Rapids!!

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Here are two more photos we received from the road:

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre Lobby

Inside the lovely Grand Rapids Civic Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Billy at Nationals

Billy Hultquist prepares for tech rehearsal at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

 

Scrooge’s Six Days of ‘A Christmas Carol’: Day 1

 Welcome to Scrooge’s Six Days of Christmas!

Why only six days, you ask? Well, Ebenezer Scrooge surely would not pay for 12 full days of Christmas…. he would pay for six! So all this week we have a fun set of posts planned to help get you into the A Christmas Carol: The Musical spirit!

A Word from Scrooge

For our first day of fun, we have a great video for you with a few money-saving tips from Scrooge himself:

A Christmas Carol: The Musical opens this Friday, November 21, and is sure to be great fun for the whole family!
As a bonus, the opening night showing is going to have catering generously donated by our 2014-15 Season Sponsor, Porsche of Spokane.

Keep your eyes posted every day this week for upcoming goodies from Scrooge and Spokane Civic Theatre!

Meet the Playwright: Matthew Weaver

In this weeklong series, we’re introducing our fabulous playwrights with work in the 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival at Spokane Civic Theatre. We asked each of our playwrights a few questions about themselves and their entries, so you’ll know a bit about them before you see their works Friday and Saturday!

Here’s our next playwright of this feature:

Introducing: Matthew Weaver

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Photo Credit: Rajah Bose

   Name: Matthew Weaver

   Lives in: Spokane, Washington – Born and raised. Has been back since 2008 and still on a Spokane Renaissance, getting to experience the town he grew up in as an adult.

   Playwright of: The Girl Wore Red Licorice

   Current occupation: A field reporter for the Capital Press, a Pacific Northwest agriculture newspaper serving farmers.

Did you go to school to learn how to be a playwright?

If so: where? If not: how did you learn?

I graduated from Washington State University in 2003 with a degree in journalism.

I write plays, film scripts, novels and anything else I can get my hands on in my spare time – at least a half hour a day, ideally

What is The Girl Wore Red Licorice about?

A psychic runs up to Peter Hopewell and tells him when and where to meet the love of his life. And what she’ll be wearing …

What inspired you to write this piece?

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money to participate in every school sale that came along, but we made darn sure to be in line when long ropes of licorice – red licorice – were being sold. I can remember walking home from Whitman Elementary with armfuls of licorice with my mom and my brother.

The family joke is that Dad was lucky to get one or two ropes when he got home from work, it was so fresh and delicious, I guess that sort of elevated red licorice in my mind, to the point that I thought, if I ever came across a girl in the right situation, and red licorice was somehow involved, that might be a sign from the fates. Ergo …

Are you going to be in the audience this weekend?

I will be there, with family and friends, on both nights!

Anything interesting about yourself, your play, or your experience that you’d like to share?

This play has its roots in Spokane and Whitman in more ways than one.

The director, Will Gilman, and I have been good friends since I was in the fifth grade and he was in the sixth. We reconnected again at Garry Middle School and at Rogers High School, where we teamed up on the school newspaper to make up “hilarious” horoscopes and stories and just generally had a good time.

Will is a talented actor, director, playwright, comedian and podcast host here in Spokane. I’ve been pestering him to collaborate since moving back, and this is our second opportunity (he previously directed a reader’s theater version of another short play of mine for another community theater production). Hopefully many more are in store …

The Girl Wore Red Licorice is one of six one-act plays showing at the sold out Playwrights’ Forum Festival this year – and one of five competition pieces. Each of the five pieces will be competing to win the Adjudicator’s Choice Award, and an Audience Choice Award.

Meet the Playwright: Fred Tonge

In this weeklong series, we’re introducing our fabulous playwrights with work in the 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival at Spokane Civic Theatre. We asked each of our playwrights a few questions about themselves and their entries, so you’ll know a bit about them before you see their works Friday and Saturday!

Time to get acquainted with our next playwright!

Introducing: Fred Tonge

 FredTonge  Name: Fred Tonge

   Lives in: Ashland, Oregon

   Playwright of: Stopgap

   Current occupation: Retired. Formerly computer science
                                      researcher and teacher.

Did you go to school to learn how to be a playwright?

If so: where? If not: how did you learn?

No formal training. Joined a playwrights’ group after retirement; learned from others and by writing and rewriting.

What is Stopgap about?

Three seniors share their thoughts on memory, or lack thereof. Humorous and thought-provoking.

What inspired you to write this piece?

I read an interview with Tom Stoppard in which he mentioned dropping the pursuit of a play on memory loss, after 6 months of research, because it was a subject for brain scientists and philosophers. That night, when I could go back to sleep, I just started writing the first draft of this play.

Are you going to be in the audience this weekend?

Yes, I will be attending this weekend.

Anything interesting about yourself, your play, or your experience that you’d like to share?

My other retirement activity is weaving, mostly tapestries.

Stopgap is one of six one-act plays showing at the sold out Playwrights’ Forum Festival this year – and one of five competition pieces. Each of the five pieces will be competing to win the Adjudicator’s Choice Award, and an Audience Choice Award.

Meet the Playwright: Keith McGregor

In this weeklong series, we’re introducing our fabulous playwrights with work in the 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival at Spokane Civic Theatre. We asked each of our playwrights a few questions about themselves and their entries, so you’ll know a bit about them before you see their works Friday and Saturday!

Today, we meet our second playwright!

Introducing: Keith McGregor

keith mcgregor   Name: Keith McGregor

   Lives in: Monroe, Washington (in the greater Seattle area)

   Playwright of: Lost and Found

   Current occupation: Retired, so he has a “fair amount of writing time”.

Did you go to school to learn how to be a playwright?
If so: where? If not: how did you learn?

I started college studying architecture, but that didn’t last.

My B.A. is in English and Fine Arts, and my M.F.A. is in Theatre—directing and production management.

I started writing in college and have taken a few playwriting classes, but mainly I’ve done a lot of reading about playwriting, writing plays, and going to/working in the theatre.

What is Lost and Found about?

Two hikers—both elderly men—encounter each other on a mountain trail high in the Cascades. A neglected geocache, hidden high on a peak overlooking Lake Valhalla, a pristine Alpine lake, gives new perspectives to both of them.

What inspired you to write this piece?

Each of these men is facing a different issue about aging—issues that are very common as people go into their final years. At this point, I’m looking at those (and other) considerations myself.

Are you going to be in the audience this weekend?

I’ll be there Friday night, but probably not on Saturday.

Anything interesting about yourself, your play, or your experience that you’d like to share?

Well, pertaining to this play, I do a fair amount of day hiking in the Cascades, I’m a Master Gardener, and I’m working on a series of short plays called “Viewpoints,” which looks at different issues and situations around the experience of aging. (It will—I hope—be a lot funnier than that description sounds.)

For more about my writing work, visit www.ravenwriters.com .

Lost and Found is one of six one-act plays showing at the sold out Playwrights’ Forum Festival this year – and one of five competition pieces. Each of the five pieces will be competing to win the Adjudicator’s Choice Award, and an Audience Choice Award.

Meet the Playwright: Merridawn Duckler

In this weeklong series, we’re introducing our fabulous playwrights with work in the 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival at Spokane Civic Theatre. We asked each of our playwrights a few questions about themselves and their entries, so you’ll know a bit about them before you see their works Friday and Saturday!

We get to present our first playwright of this series to you today!

Introducing: Merridawn Duckler

Merridawn   Name: Merridawn Duckler

   Lives in: Portland, Oregon

   Playwright of: Fresh Hell

   Current occupation: Teaches writing

 

Did you go to school to learn how to be a playwright?
If so: where? If not: how did you learn?

I went to Reed College and wrote an undergraduate thesis of original poems; I have an MAJS in theology. How did I learn? School of Hard Knocks, with an advanced degree in Knock ‘Em Out.

What is Fresh Hell about?

It’s set in the Talent Department of Hell (And yes, Hell has a Talent Department—can’t you think of quite a few people who might be on their roster?).

King Charge manages the place—he’s literally the boss from hell—and poor Gnash serves under him. Gnash has conceived of an American Idol style competition to find a “brand ambassador” for their devilry. He’s invited the super talented and innocent young winner, Babe, to come on down. She can’t wait! But she also can’t sign the contract, since she’s a minor. Instead the signer has to be Babe’s mother, Mrs. Abraham, who has other wishes for her daughter than to serve as celebrity spokesperson to the The Under Lord. Also, they’re Jewish, and don’t really believe in hell—so maybe the whole thing is just a silly little mistake?

What inspired you to write this piece?

Bosses from hell, the idea of the anti-stage mother, American-style competition, Martin Buber and the critique of theological stances on the nature of good and evil, a sense that we are all pretty lucky to have survived our teens.

Are you going to be in the audience this weekend?

Oh yeah.

Anything interesting about yourself, your play, or your experience that you’d like to share?

My mother was an actress. They were strapping her into her corset for the Christmas show when the costumer commented that she seemed to have put on a little weight. I was born in March. If I’d arrived a bit earlier I could have been in the cast of “Nude With Violin.” I’ve been racing to catch up ever since.

Fresh Hell is one of six one-act plays showing at the sold out Playwrights’ Forum Festival this year – and one of five competition pieces. Each of the five pieces will be competing to win the Adjudicator’s Choice Award, and an Audience Choice Award.

Theatre Love: Anything Goes Comes Spokane’s Way

Any Theatre In Spokane Is Good Theatre

Spokane is a theatre kind of town. Really. You’ve got Ignite Community Theatre, SCC Players and SFCC Spartan Theatre, Interplayers Lake City Playhouse and Spokane Children’s Theatre to name just a few. Spokane even gets its fair share of national tours thanks to the Best of Broadway series. And here is the kicker….this is how we know Spokane loves theatre. Seats get filled. Shows get sold out. Spokane comes to see live theatre, a lot! This year, Civic started off their season with Les Miserables, Interplayers with Brighton Beach Memoirs and Best of Broadway will be opening with Anything Goes. We like highlighting theatre events in our community and with the opening for Anything Goes right around the corner, we had a chance to ask one of the Anything Goes cast members a few questions. We thought we would share them with you!

Meet Alex Finke

Anything Goes

Alex plays “Hope Harcourt”, theatre credits include: Fiddler on the Roof (Tzietel), Legally Blonde (Serena) at MTWichita, Tarzan (Jane), Lend Me a Tenor (Maggie), at WagonWheel.

What is Anything Goes about?

Anything Goes is a tale of hi-jinx on high seas! The show takes place on board the S.S. American bound for England. Hope Harcourt is a debutant engaged to marry an Englishman, but trouble begins when it is discovered that the man Hope loves, Billy Crocker, has stowed away on the ship. There are love triangles, gangsters in disguise, an evangelist night club singer, mistaken identities, quick changes and general hilarity throughout the entire show.

Tell us why Spokane should see Anything Goes.

Spokane should come to the show because it is a show with something everyone will love. It’s got the classic Cole Porter score paired with phenomenal dance numbers and it’s so upbeat and happy. It’s a show that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Tell us about the set (we are always curious about this part!)

The set is the S.S. American. It encompasses the entire stage and is bright white. The first scene of the show takes place in a dark bar so when the curtain reveals the ship with the sailors singing on deck it’s really a breathtaking moment.

What about costumes (another favorite of ours)?

The costumes of Anything Goes are a very special element of the production. The tour is actually dedicated to the late Martin Pakledinaz. Anything Goes was one of the final shows he designed and his work on this show (as well as his many others) is simply incredible. The way everything moves and catches the light is stunning. The costumes are so elegant and give true character to the piece. I wish I could give a sneak peak but you’ll just have to come see the show!

What is the watch for it moment of the production?

Audiences should get ready for the act 2 opening number “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” It is a show-stopper!!

Coming Up in the Spokane Theatre Scene

So thank you Spokane for supporting theatre in our community. Now go out there and see a show! More interviews from other theatres in our community and from Civic coming up!

Ultimate Guide to Civic’s Theatre Costumes

Civic Theatre Costumes, What You Don’t Know

Admit it, you’re either one who is really curious about the costumes you see on the stage at Spokane Civic Theatre or you’re one of those who really doesn’t notice them. Either is good. One marvels about the ins and outs of theatre and the other gets so wrapped up in a play or musical that the stage costumes don’t stick out. So, we thought we’d give you a peek in to Civic’s ultimate guide to costumes. And our thanks to Jan Wanless, Lead Costume Design and Construction Extraordinaire, for helping us put this blog together.

And On With The Interview

When do you start thinking about the costumes for a production?

I start thinking about costumes from the moment Yvonne mentions a show as a “maybe”.  We start tossing titles around 2-3 years before shows even make it into the season, so by the time they are confirmed and announced, we already have a good idea about styles and colors.  We can’t do much more than that until we get the actual cast list, because much of the individual designs depend on the person cast in each role.

Treasure Island Spokane Civic Theatre

How do you research costume ideas?

We have shelves of research books – yes, books – that I still prefer over the internet.  Then we do go online (especially for period shows). I try NOT  to watch the movie if it’s a show that is also on film.  Unless the director insists on something from the film, I’d rather do my own variations on the period.  Some pieces are so iconic you can’t avoid them, like the parakeet blue dresses and fans for the “Sisters” number in White Christmas, but usually you can change up the colors and styles a bit.  The most important thing is making the actors comfortable and believable, so unless you are as skinny as Audrey Hepburn, we are not going to put big black lines across you hips!  And if a pale-skinned red-head is cast, I won’t put her in yellow.

white christmas spokane civic theatre

Do you work with the directors in coming up with costume ideas?

A few weeks before auditions (sometimes earlier), I have a production meeting with the director to discuss general ideas and specifics that are called for in the script. I get their wish list and give them the budget and time limitations that will be on their show.  We do 11+ shows each year, so the needs of the next show looming do play a part.  You and the director dream big, then scale down to whatever is manageable within the time frame.  Then we wait to see who gets cast.  After that, we meet again to solidify styles and colors based on the actors, movement needed (dancing, climbing ship masts, etc), availability of fabrics and  time constraints.  Directors usually get one BIG request, you know, the “I really, really want this!”  And then we figure out how to give it to them without sacrificing the rest of the show.

Grease spokane civic theatre

What production are you most excited about (costume wise) for next season and why?

Most scared: Les Miz – It’s huge and everyone knows it.

Most excited: The Tempest – David is directing. I’m getting a say in the period and style! And it’s Shakespeare!

Most relieved: Christmas Schooner – I’ve done it before, so it’s low pressure after Les Miz.

Most sentimental: Gypsy It opened my first season at Civic (1983) and is closing my 30th season (2013).  I like the symmetry.

But That’s Not All Folks

We have a few more questions for Ms. Wanless and a few for some of the others who toil backstage to make the magic happen for you up on that stage. In the meantime, season tickets are on sale now (tickets go on sale to the public August 1, 2013) for the Starlit Season, and yes, for Les Miserables. We’re betting it’s all Civic is thinking about these days. Just call Rebecca at the Box Office at 509.325.2507 to get information and to reserve your seat. Time to dream of elaborate, period costumes. We’ll see you next week.

Keep Up With Civic

For more information on Les Miserables, The Christmas Schooner, Crazy for You, The Mousetrap, The Three Muskateers, Gypsy and more, check out Spokane Civic’ Theatre’s page on the Starlit Season, follow us on Facebook, watch us on Twitter, pin us on Pinterest and Google us on Google +.