I went to see Xanadu on Broadway tonight..... meh. I'm a big kitschy fan of the movie so I was super excited about seeing it. There was some things I liked, some things I didn't. Overall it was very very gay. (I can say this because they said it themselves several times through out the show.) If you want to see it, go. If not, don't. As far as reviews go, I think that's a fair statement.
But we're here to talk costume. David Zinn was the costume designer. According to playbill this was his first Broadway show, lots of theater and opera before that.
Before I went, I didn't like what I saw in pictures. Of course that's always unfair. One of the major themes in the show is that it takes place in 1980 Venice Beach... this is a constant joke. I think he was going for a goddess slash 80s thing with the muses... I think it worked, but only if you thought about it alot.
The best scene (not pictured above) is when she's on Mt. Olympus talking to Zeus and the cast comes out dressed as different gods and goddesses, including a centaur and Medusa... he's clearly gifted at comedy design. Every costume was head to toe white (with a little gold accent) and hilarious. Amazing that an all white array of characters works but it totally did. I wonder if he had to fight for it. The last scene (pictured above) is grotesquely 80s disco and it's awesome. Also the best scene of the show.
The muses costumes bugged me the most though, which is what they're in most of the time. Like I said- some of it's good, some if it's only ok. Although I've been seeing alot of Broadway lately and I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I just don't like Broadway design. Sometimes it's glitzy for glitzy's sake and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
I went to the amazing *free* Metropolitan Opera Opening Night of the 2007-2008 Season in Times Square last night. It was scheduled to start at 6:30 but luckily started the second I got there about ten minutes or so late. They blocked off the entire Broadway half of Times Square and set out many seats and we watched on the big screen facing south of Manhattan. They hung giant speakers from cranes on either side of the roped off area and the sound was incredible. There was virtually no traffic noise at all (the right side of the street on the other side of the island was not blocked off...), no honking, no loud radios or engines or anything at all. I think everyone was just so into it, and those passing who didn't really know what it was all about just shut up to kind of take it in and figure it out. People came and went freely, which was nice actually. It contributed to the very relaxing and easy atmosphere. (I know! Easy and relaxing on the streets of Times Square!?) The back half was not very full at all when I got there, but then -oddly- almost completely filled up for the great mad scene in the Third Act. It's like everyone knew that this was the moment.
The opera was absolutely riveting. And I'm not just saying that. I'm sort of an 'Idea-of-Opera' lover I've sadly realized after watching this performance. I say that because I always always watch it on tv, but inevitably end up getting bored after a couple of hours and flip the channel. Maybe that's because of the commercials or because I always catch it in the middle... in any case, this performance completely surprised me and I can now say that I am a bona fide Opera lover. At one point I thought my eyes were going to bug out of my head, I was so riveted and glued to my seat. I had not planned to stay through the whole thing because it ended after ten and I had not eaten since lunch... but I just couldn't get up, I wanted to see the whole thing. I can't gush any more about it, it was simply amazing.
The Mad Scene, Act III
In between the Acts, in the almost half an hour Intermissions, there were interviews and backstage glimpses. The first intermission Mary Jo Heath talked briefly with Director Mary Zimmerman and surprisingly Mara Blumenfeld, the costume designer (sorry Mara! I got such odd photos of you!) The interview was brief but she talked about her thought process behind the production and their decision to move the time period to the Victorian era. The idea was that as Lucia goes mad, or is already mad and gets increasingly so, in their view, that the Victorian time period would be a great backdrop to emphasize this story in that respect.
The palette Mara chose was one of blacks, dark greys, gunmetals, dark greens, and only one hit of red in the 'villian,' Enrico's costume. Of course Lucia's wedding gown in the final act was a bright white which popped dramatically against the cast's black ensemble. There were alot of irridescent taffetas used, in almost everybody's costume, especially the ensemble cast. Brocades were used as well, though they too were very shiny. The production on the whole was very dark and moody with lots of bare trees in the backgrounds to add eeriness- it was almost like a ghost story.
Maestro James Levine in action, and taking a final bow with the leading lady. Don't you just love him! I always have, I think he's adorable. Not to mention a genius, of course.
I was very happy to see that after the first bow, the production team came up and joined the line, including Mara Blumenfeld, to take curtain calls. Afterwards everyone took a final bow on the balcony of Lincoln Center, where an audience was watching outside on a large screen.
Every morning while Pat Kiernan and I chat about what's in today's papers, I am bombarded with commercials for The Little Mermaid coming to Broadway "so get your tickets now!" However the commercial is nothing more than a poster-like title card and a voice over. But my curiosity was peaked as to how they were going to do this whole swimming around on stage business and how those mermaids were going to get around in their fishy costumes. There's practically no information or pictures to be found (dang Disney machine at work...) although I found a blog wholey dedicated to this one production and has a few tidbit pics on there. What I have found though, is not promising with regards to design. Completely predictable and boring... and actually kind of garish and loud. Reviews all over trash the production design as well, but this is just my pre-judgement. It's not fair to say for sure until I've seen it (or at least better pics.) If they're looking for some advise however, I suggest this dress as a fabulous place to start!
The Metropolitan Opera 2007-2008 season premiers in six days. Catch all the anticipatory action at the Met's blog. There's all sorts of production notes, sketches and details on the actors. Yesterday posted this great (albeit, short) mini interview with the Costume Designer, Mara Blumenfeld.
Up top, under News & Features check out the Photo Galleries and there's a great list of photo sets. Opera by Design and The Art of the Sketch provide great design details of the upcoming season, including this costume sketch above for Hansel and Gretel by designer John McFarlane.