Creative Christmas Costumes with Janet Pitcher
How do you begin designing the costumes for a show?
Design begins by going through the script and noting characters and scenes, in this case also referencing the movie, Broadway musical and live musical for design ideas. After that, I meet with the director and choreographer to discuss design ideas and determine which actors will play various characters in the production. The internet is an amazing resource to find pictures of costumes, to buy actual costumes, and supplies as well. In addition to some rough design sketches, for A Christmas Story I created story boards for each character as well as each production number to share my ideas visually with the rest of the design team.
What does the process look like? What are the considerations?
The process begins with planning and design and following the plan. Keeping track is a continuous struggle with the number of costumes in this production. Budget is also a consideration when keeping track of purchases so a plan is extra important. We also need to consider how the costumes move for the performers and timing for quick changes. Often, costumes need to be designed to layer quickly on and off for quick changes.
What is the most fun aspect of the process for you and why?
The part I enjoy the most is the challenge of fulfilling classic design looks while adding some original elements. Most people will remember the classic movie and will come to the show expecting to see some of what they remember and cherish. I also hope to bring them something new and unexpected, and that is fun!
What posses the greatest challenge in this show?
The greatest challenge is probably the number of costumes and quick changes under budget and time constraints. We also have many very quick costume changes with kids. The Ralphie to the Rescue number is a huge fantasy sequence with many fun costumes and actors playing several roles. Making sure costumes are built for the quick changes and coordinating the time and the wardrobe team is the biggest challenge.
Where do you find/what resources do you use to fine unique pieces?
First, I look in our costume inventory, many pieces from SDMT’s White Christmas may be found in this production. Over my career, I have also collected many vintage pieces which work well for our story. Then some basic costume items are found shopping locally or on Amazon. Some of the large production numbers and the iconic costume pieces are designed and built by me so I can achieve the completed look we want.
What elements are considered costume?
Generally anything that is “worn” by an actor is a costume. Our team works closely with the Props and sets department to coordinate our designs and to ensure everything needed is acquired. Costumes include hats, scarves, gloves, handbags, and other items which would need to coordinate with clothing.
How do you collaborate with other creatives to find common ground?
Production meetings help our department coordinate with wigs and makeup to be sure costume colors and hats will work. We work with props to be sure we have things like pockets, handbags, or other clothing/prop items mentioned in the script. We also work closely with choreography to be sure actors can move the way they need to in their costumes. My story boards also help to share design ideas with the rest of the creative team.
How would you describe your personal style?
I love to dress in color! As an artist I enjoy coordinating everything, from clothing, jewelry, shoes and I love vibrant colors.
How does your work influence how you dress?
I like clothing I can move easily in, but love color! I also try to incorporate my opening night outfit to whatever show I am costuming!
Do you get stuck on the details?!? (my earrings don’t match my shoes and my purse is out of context)
Since I am also a jewelry designer, I love to coordinate my clothing with my jewelry. So I love to have both necklace and earrings to match my wardrobe!