Heartbreak House
Douglas Campbell was a classical actor well known in England, Stratford Canada, and at the Guthrie Theatre. An actor of generous proportions, our director for HEARTBREAK HOUSE was anxious to reduce the girth for Captain Shotover. I was the messenger. A diet? Exercise? A corset? Douglas raged. Instead I piled on layers of wool sweaters, wool sailor’s trousers, P-coats, blanket … a commanding presence! all with his approval. Will the real Douglas please stand up?

l-r: Paxton Whitehead, Jerome Dempsey, Fionnula Flanagan, and Douglas Campbell

The Man Who Came to Dinner
While Douglas Campbell was getting larger, so was John Mahoney in this revivalof THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. John was a trim size 40/42 so extensive padding was necessary to become Sheridan Whiteside. The staff built a full padded body suit. Costumed with an array of Art Déco smoking jackets the actor during dress rehearsals became overheated. So for some performances I suggested that HE could decide whether or not to appear in shirtsleeves, cravat, fancy suspenders, and dress trousers and alerted the Stage Management.

l-r: Ross Lehman, Harriet Harris, and John Mahoney

The Royal Family
I wrote to Cathleen Nesbitt in London as to what preferences she had for her costumes for THE ROYAL FAMILY. As the matriarch of the Cavendish family of thespians, Fanny was the star attraction. She asked me to consider gowns that puddled on the floor and the colors that flattered her were pale blue, lavender, and peach. In lieu of her years on the boards and a treacherous staircase we hemmed her frocks to the top of her toe. It was a privilege to work with the war poet, Rupert Brooke’s, famous Mme. X.

l-r: Cathleen Nesbitt

The Libertine
John Malkovich loves textiles. Knowing this I had my assistant swatch splendid materials for his 17th century costumes in THE LIBERTINE. Black on Black. We poured over the swatches for Lord Rochester’s several costumes and with an expert cutter, the fittings went through with minimal notes. John had three wigs for the part made up for him in London but he sported his own facial hair.

l-r: Martha Plimpton, John Malkovich

The Seagull
Ruth Ford told me when we met at her apartment in the Dakota thatshe would not wear a corset. She preferred free flowing gowns. Mou-mou’s. The period the director and design team wanted for THE SEAGULL was 1895, the year the play was written. A heavily corseted year. So, I designed flowing theatrical frocks for the actress, Arkadina, to be built on lightly boned under bodices to avoid unattractive wrinkles. Before opening night she had quietly removed the boning from all of her foundations.

l-r: Ruth Ford, Deborah Baltzell

The Cherry Orchard
In a Chekhovian mood, costuming the actress Nancy Marchand in THE CHERRY ORCHARD was a special delight. It was not the first time that I had worked with Nancy. A malleable and intuitive actress, she asked me if I would consider using Russian motifs in her clothing worn on the Russian estate and Parisian high style for her traveling wardrobe. I did. Upscale clothing that belies her financial distress. After all, the Orchard will be sold and then she won’t have to sell her mother’s pearls.

l-r: Maurice Copeland, Nancy Marchand, and Roger Omar Serbagi

All performers are concerned with foot comfort. When I met with Tom Hampson at the Lyric Opera House to discuss his costumes for the title role in Verdi’s MACBETH he said, “you can put me in anything. I’ll wear it. BUT may I have my boots on the first day of rehearsal?” We had the boots made in Texas. They were a perfect fit but the seams were not vertical! I fussed. The shoemaker set about making a new pair that arrived for the opening. They were never worn.

l-r: Thomas Hampson

Wigs! Hollis Resnik is a Sondheim aficionado. She’s played all of his heroines. As Carlotta in FOLLIES she wanted her blonde wig to have henna highlights. And we mutually altered design elements of the evening dress. She was enthusiastic about a boned bodice, she LOVES corsets, and her hair (wig) went through several style sets. The mic was concealed inthe French Twist at the back. Anything to assist her in singing “I’M STILL HERE”.

l-r: Hollis Resnik

Henry IV
Our director for HENRY IV, Parts 1 & 2 asked for a design that was contemporary but felt like the early 15th century. The show turned out to be 80% purchased. Then altered. For Hotspur’s court regalia, my shoppers scoured resale shops, cut up fur coats, and made purchases of new footwear. Hotspur’s coat is actually made from two leather garments cut and stitched together. The painting staff distressed and worked more color into the finished garment to match the design.

l-r: John Douglass Thompson

Desire Under the Elms
Katherine McGrath was cast as Abbie Putnam in DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS at the Guthrie Theatre. This costume was worn over a corded corset, c. 1840. And layered petticoats. The raw silk textile originally was off white with black and yellow plaid stripes. The superb staff dyed the silk an ochre color then hand painted the red stripes. In discussion with the cutter the darker band was placed below the point of the bust so that the stage lighting would highlight her mono-bosom when Abbie meets her new stepson, Eben Cabot.

l-r: Katherine McGrath

Follies/Fanny Brice
Men’s period suitings. We were fortunate to have a vintage tailor in townthat flourished in the 1940’s and could recreate any suiting from the 1930’s to the present day. Buddy sings “The Right Girl” from FOLLIES wearing a 1970 shawl collar, single button, and padded shoulder tuxedo in one of “those” colors. Billy Rose is on the phone in FANNY BRICE wearing a 1930’s three-piece pin stripe, peaked lapel suit with a button fly. Don’t sell men’s 20th century suitings short. They require attention and skill.

l-r: Robert Petkoff, Stef Tovar