Local Twin Cities Theater Bloggers have given Beauty and the Beast glowing reviews:
"Be transported and transformed by this splendid fairy tale." ~Cherry and Spoon
"Did not disappoint...." ~Aisle Say Twin Cities
"A magical night of theater." ~Girl Meets Broadway
"Ruthanne Heyward shines as Belle." ~Compendium
And the costuming for this production is magical. Don't believe me? Ask the dishes! With some help from Chanhassen Dinner Theatres I interviewed three of the actors who understand firsthand how costumes can transport us to a fairy tale world.
What character do you play in Beauty and the Beast?
Describe your costume.
Jay: Basically the entire time I’m on stage I sit in a small, round box wearing a saucer and teacup on my head. The teacup has a small chip in it, giving my character the name Chip. It gets very hot inside the box, so underneath I am wearing a t-shirt under my microphone. In the summer, it’s sure to get hotter, so I bet I’ll be wearing shorts!
What's it like performing in your costume?
Jay: The box is pretty small, and I sit on my knees, but there is enough padding to avoid injury, and enough space in the back to keep my feet. Lots of people in the cast poke fun at me with the greatest amount of love at how I need to work on my blocking, even though Mrs. Potts, (Susan Hofflander) is pushing me around the stage the whole time, and how my choreography needs work, although the only part that’s moving is my head!!! Being in the box the entire show can be a bit stressful, but I do get lots of time to myself, to be able to think outside the box. Get it?
Because the audience only sees my face inside the cup for nearly the entire show, I need to make my face as expressive as possible so that has been fun and challenging! My favorite moment is my transformation back to a little boy and I love that costume, I finally get to be “human again”! I love all the costumes in the show, especially the wolves, I think they are really scary!
Artist Interview: Ann Michels
What character do you play:
Ann: Babette (the maid turned feather duster).
Describe your costume.
Ann: My main costume is gold and cream colored. Underneath I wear a tight corset and padded underwear to add curviness to my hips and butt. I also wear 3 inch gold heels to add length to the feather duster. Hard ornamental volutes, "greenery" and birds make up a breast plate and epaulettes glued and sewn onto the dress. It's a column dress that cinches in tightly at the knees, and from there down cascade long gold feathers. Partway through the show I add attachable wrist cuffs with long feathers that cover my hands as the progression to feather duster continues. I wear a red curly wig that's turning into a solid gold end piece (hat) with a loop on top signifying how the feather duster would be hung for storage.
Ann: The costume is very heavy, and I do not have the ability to bend very well or stride my legs widely. Stairs are very tricky to maneuver. I have to walk/run/tango with tiny steps. I also can't really sit down, so back stage I lean against a stool or table. The feathers added to cover my hands make it so I have to be very careful when grabbing someone or dancing so as not to break them.
How has your costume(s) transformed your character OR what inspired you about the costuming for this show in general? The restrictiveness of the costume adds to the illusion that this expressive and romantic maid is slowly stiffening into a solid object - a feather duster. It is certainly a challenge, but, I think essential in the story telling that the spell is leading to our eventual human demise.
What character do you play?
Emily: Madame de la Grand Bouche
Describe your costume.
Emily: I have one main golden headpiece resembling an ornate pediment of sorts—I wear my hair in a low, flat bun under a wig cap and put the headpiece on after I step into my wardrobe box backstage. Because the box is on wheels, I leave it backstage whenever I am not in it—it doesn’t do stairs, per se. There is a hinged panel on the back of the box into which I step, and two arm holes cut into the sides that are decorated with sleeves to give the illusion that I am the wardrobe itself. I get someone to help make sure the back of the wardrobe flap’s velcro is fastened tightly so the flap doesn’t come open when I’m on stage. The front of the wardrobe has two doors I can access from the front sides, and decorative drawers with one functioning drawer (slot) in which I have a pair of bloomers and a gown for my first scene in the show. Getting this bit right took some practice in the rehearsal room. I had to learn how to preset these two garments in a way that I could reach them easily—my “wingspan” and dexterity are greatly compromised inside the box, because it is wider than I am. I simply can’t reach very far once I’m inside.
Describe what it’s like performing in your costume:
Emily: Performing in my costume is a challenge. With practice, I have gotten pretty comfortable in it, but I still bump into things and people backstage as I don’t know my own size quite yet. The lace ruff I wear around my neck while I’m in the box (and after the transformation when I’m in my final gown) sometimes gets caught in the neck hole, so I’m constantly adjusting and trying to get it where it needs to be to be comfortable. I use my arms in various ways when I’m in the box to either aid quickness of entrances and exits (I usually hold on to the front or back in order to move quickly), and if I’m swaying or twirling, I usually use one hand to brace the box, and the other to gesture.
How do your costumes transform your character and what inspired you about the costuming for this show?
Emily: My costume definitely makes the stakes of becoming human again real. I love the end of the play when the spell is broken and we are transformed into humans again—I am in the most beautiful gown that resembles my wardrobe box, complete with identical bows on the corset bodice and the same fabrics with which the wardrobe is covered. I literally scamper onto stage, do my scene with Scott Blackburn (Cogsworth), and we trot off into the wing and do a skip as we exit, reveling in the freedom of being able to move freely! Luckily, I don’t have to attempt much choreography in my wardrobe box because it has so many limitations, and since I’ve gotten good at the tasks I must accomplish while in it, I have grown to like being in it. It is beautiful, spectacular, and a great sight gag—and as a comic character actor in this fun role, you gotta love any help you have to get the laugh!
Ticket Information: Beauty and The Beast
The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Present:
Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Now through September 24, 2016
Ruthanne Heyward, Robert O. Berdahl, Keith Rice, Aleks Knezevich, Susan Hofflander, Mark King, Scott Blackburn, Daniel S. Hines, Ann Michels, Emily Rose Skinner, Andre Shoals, Brandyn Tapio, Mathias Anderson, Adam Moen, Sean Nugent, Rico Heisler, Thomas Schumacher, Serena Brook, Jessica Frederickson, Timmy Hays, Alyssa Seifert, Maura White, Larissa Gritti, Laura Rudolph, Tommy Benson, and Lars Lee
Michael Brindisi, Tamara Kangas-Erickson, Rich Hamson, and Andrew Cooke
Five and up welcome, discounts for students and seniors
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Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
501 W 78th St, Chanhassen, MN 55317