The Phantom of the Opera: Costume Design on Broadway

The Phantom of the Opera: Costume Design on Broadway


[MUSIC PLAYING] NATHAN HECK (VOICEOVER):
This episode is funded by the Glick Fund
and the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, who inspire
philanthropy and creativity. [MUSIC PLAYING] We’re here in New York City
at the world-famous Majestic Theatre, home of one of the
longest-running Broadway musicals, Phantom of the Opera. We’re gonna get to
go behind the scenes to see what it takes
to put this show on. Follow me. [MUSIC – ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER,
“THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA”] We are here behind the scenes
of The Phantom of the Opera with Annette Lovece. Thank you so much
for taking some time. Pleasure. Can you please
just first tell us what you do here at
Phantom of the Opera. I am the production
seamstress here at Phantom. I’ve been in the wardrobe
department for 23 years. Wow. So you got some experience. So yeah. Yeah. I got few things I know
about the show, yeah. I have touched every
costume in this building at least five times. That is for sure. Oh, I bet. (LAUGHING) Yes. Wow. Now, speaking of, where are we? Because since nobody else
can see, what room are we in? We are in– we call this the
stage right quick-change room, and it is literally that. We are stage right, and it is
where people get dressed really quickly when they have to get on
and off stage when there’s not a lot of time. There are times when we have
probably 12 actors in here along with as many dressers. We have hair people, sometimes
we have sound people, so this room gets pretty busy. Where do you even start
coming up with the ideas and– Yeah. — making all of this and
creating it and figuring it out? Right. Well, we– our designer,
Maria Bjornson, she designed the
entire show back in the ’80s when it was new. She also took into
consideration the set design. She did, you know, the lighting. Everything works together
as a unit, you know. So– but she designed all
the clothes back then. And they’re so descriptive
that I can see, you know, the placement of each bead
and the length of hems. Like, I can really
refer to them. And we try to keep
the show looking like day one as much
as possible, which is why I have a job still. One of the things
that I’m amazed by, even just looking around here,
is the intricate detail that I from the– I know from the audience side of
it, I’m not appreciating fully. So can you tell me, like,
what– what does it take, like, maintaining this stuff,
and what do, you know– ANNETTE LOVECE: There is
so much, you’re right. And this show, I
mean, is so opulent. We have so many, you know,
beads and buttons and sequins. And fortunately, we– we
have been around long enough that we have a pretty good
stash of those things. Every day I come in and
it’s the first thing I do in the morning,
is replace whatever fell off during the
show the night before– who got tangled up in whom, you
know, who split their pants. Just happened last week. NATHAN HECK: Oh no. So yeah. So all of this–
all of this detail, we really check it
over every single day. We have wardrobe
people in every day before the show that
inspect every costume, and we literally do replace any
missing bead, button, sparkle, so that it looks like
it did on day one. Things like this,
Carlotta’s dress, we had to like change
little things over time, because we noticed
that, you know, certain beads make
too much noise and it gets picked
up on the mic. Or certain things she
kneels on, they were glass, but now they’re plastic
because they break. So we do tweak a little– you know, little
things over the years, but we try to keep it as true
to the original as possible. We use color as
different, absolutely, than– than film and TV. You have to use a
lot more bold colors. We oftentimes like
will paint shadow into things so that they
look like there’s more depth, you know– NATHAN HECK: Yeah. ANNETTE LOVECE: —
from a distance. Absolutely. And like I said, we have to
also be aware of the sound that things make– you know, things that
jingle when you take them across the stage and get
picked up on microphones, and, you know, the way that
they interact with other things on the stage. We can’t have people with
beads close to someone else who has something
pointy, you know, because they’ll get
caught on each other. So we have to be really aware
of not only how it looks but how it’s gonna function
with what we need to do. And every actor will say
too, you know, it’s one thing to learn your lines
and your choreography, but then when you
put the costume on, it really helps them just
become the character. You know, I– I often see
people, like, just stand taller when they’re in
their suit, or women get their– their
posture changes when they’re in a
dress like this. And it has to, considering
the size of them, the weight of them, the
corseting that they have. So it really, like,
creates the full picture once they’re in costume. You know, I’ll
share funny story. So the first time I had a
dress rehearsal in this skirt– Carlotta starts
the show, and she has this really big solo moment
where I’m coming downstage. I’m the only one on the stage. I’m singing a cappella, meaning
there’s no music under me– it’s just my voice. And in rehearsal, you know, that
was easy, and I would nail it. And the first time
I wore this skirt, I made it halfway down the
stage, and I was like– [GASPING] They said, that
happens to everybody. You can start over. Fortunately, there was no
one in the audience that day. NATHAN HECK: (LAUGHING) Yeah. You’re like– yeah. You’re like, and
that’s why we rehearse. That’s why we rehearse,
to get used to it. Absolutely. I’m looking at
this, and I would love for you to tell
me a little bit more about some of the pieces in
here that we’re looking at. Sure. Sure. This room is divided up by
character, believe it or not, and within each
character they’re in order of when they
wear them in the show. OK. So it kind of looks
like a bit of a mess, but it’s an organized chaos– Yes, yes. — that we have here. NATHAN HECK: Organized chaos. OK. Yes. Here we have Christine clothes. You know, we have
two Christines– they split up the week–
so we have two sets of the same exact clothes. This is one of my
favorite dresses. This is Christine’s
Rooftop dress– Holy cow. — which is beautiful, right? And she wears a big
giant cape over it, so a lot of this you don’t
even get to see how detailed– you know, all the details and– NATHAN HECK: Yeah. I mean– ANNETTE LOVECE: — all
the lace and the– yeah. [INAUDIBLE] What does something
like that weigh? I mean, it looks really heavy. Give it a try. Oh my gosh. Seriously? This feels like, I’d
say, at least 10 pounds. And this– this– this is nothing. Some of our costumes
are really heavy. Carlotta’s dress, we get
her in it in this room because it’s too big for
her to walk around in. She just would never make
it through the hallways in that dress. Yeah. These are the
Sylvan Glade dresses worn by our ballerinas, which
when Maria designed them, I mean, it was really brilliant. Every layer underneath
is a different color, so when they spin you see
all the different colors, and they’re– they’re weighted just so that
they spin perfectly flat when they go around. Man. Yeah. It was a really
brilliant design. These are the rest of
Christine’s clothes. This is her– her
Mausoleum dress. This fabric was made–
hand-painted for this show back in the 1980s
in London, when who knew we were gonna
run this long, right? Right. And now to get it, we
have to still go back to the same company to
get the same fabric. It is trademarked. It is the Christine– Are you kidding me? — fabric. Yes. So again, these are
like pieces of art, like in all essence. They really are. Wearable. They really are. And the fabrics
that were chosen– in the beginning,
you know, we didn’t realize it’d have to
last for 29 years– Well, yeah. — you know what I mean? So we– we really make our– I make an effort
to make them live as long as they possibly can. Yeah. So, I’ve gotta ask. So, is that what I
think it is up there? Oh, I think it is. Yeah, yeah. Yes. So tell me about it. This is the– what everyone
wants to know about, right? This is the Phantom’s mask. These are made individually
for each Phantom’s face by Rodney Gordon. He’s been making
them since day one. NATHAN HECK: No kidding. ANNETTE LOVECE: There’s a
mold of the Phantom’s face, and then he fits this on
them, keeping special care to make sure the eyehole
is big enough, that it cuts around their mouth
just the right way. NATHAN HECK: Oh yeah. ANNETTE LOVECE: And then this
wire is molded to their head so that it doesn’t
move when it’s on him, because we
can’t have the Phantom, you know, messing with his mask. Yeah. And it’s the last thing
you want to think about. You got this– yeah. Absolutely. So– and there’s a
scene where Christine rips the mask off
his face, but we have to rehearse that
for hours and hours to make sure that they don’t
pull off his prosthetics and his wig and
everything with it. Oh my gosh. So she takes it off in one
very fluid motion, but we– we make sure that– that
everything stays put– Yeah. — where it needs to be. Yeah. It’s layers of– it’s–
it’s polyurethane. It’s leather. It’s painted and airbrushed. Yeah. I mean, really,
there’s a lot of care that goes into these masks. Wow. You know, what I love is,
like, in every respect here we’re like, OK,
so you see the artist, and then there’s like layers
of artists behind it, right? Like– Yep. Yeah. Yeah. Everything in
this building gets touched by like five different
people before the show starts– Yeah. — you know, because we want
to make sure that it’s just, just right. Well, Annette
and Michelle, thank you so much for taking some
time to show us like, wow, the incredible creativity
and innovation you guys do. And then– Thank you. — you’re surrounded by a
bunch of art in this room, which is so cool. Yeah. Thanks for sharing. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yes. NATHAN HECK
(VOICEOVER): Hey, did you know that subscribing
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13 Replies to “The Phantom of the Opera: Costume Design on Broadway”

  1. It's only after you see all the work and heart put into things like costume design that you start appreciating it (or at least in my case) sometimes things you take for granted are such a complex and beautiful part of an all.

  2. I am so happy this video was made , I have always been a fan of opera and seeing what happens behind the stage just makes me appreciate it more.

  3. She's my favorite person- my ALL TIME favorite costume from the show is the Rooftop dress. Thank you for sharing this!!

  4. I'm going to go to college for costume design I hope. I really love it, and it seems the most amazing of all the parts of a production because your art is put into another amazing art and no one ever has to know it's you who made the visuals complete:) (unless they really, really care, I guess)

  5. I' m a dresser at Phantom of The Opera in Copenhagen right now, and I really enjoyed this video. Thank you so much. And yes, we get a looot of exercise from running around and handling all these heavy, but gorgeous, costumes:)

  6. "One of the longest running shows on Broadway"? No, no, no, no, no. It's THE longest running show on Broadway

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