Saturday, 27 July 2013

WWRY Costumes Part 4 - Bohemians - We Will Rock You!

What's Mick Jagger doing in WWRY? I'm sure he's not a listed cast member. Silly me - it's Pop - the old bohemian who helps Galileo and Scaramouche find the "Living Rock" at Wembly and summon up the Hairy One's mighty lost axe.
Daniel Williams as Pop (Photographs by Peter Cook)

Sticking closely to the character, I went for the aging hippy look. A grungy old denim waistcoat with really matted fur trim caught my eye in a local charity shop - it looked really grubby - perfect. I sewed some orange native American style print cotton fabric to the back and one side panel and added brown suede fringing and feathers.  Underneath is an oversize Aztec print t-shirt that I'd dyed a dirty denim blue.

Our Pop was played by Daniel Williams - who rather liked the black wig I'd bought from a fancy dress shop for another show. Although it was "rock star style" it did look rather hippyish when we added an Aztec headband. But he sure does look a bit "Jagger"ish in that first picture!

Did you know the iconic rock singer Meatloaf got his start in musical theatre? He was in the 1975 cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show - not surprising when you hear the awesome, amazing Bat out of Hell.........

Sorry I digress. Our Meatloaf is much smaller, and a lot prettier. And she's a girl.

For those who haven't seen WWRY, the Bohemians are a bit of a surprise. After rejecting the globalsoft life, they reinvent themselves using old rock and pop legends as inspiration. However, as they are using scraps of lost information, they do get a bit mixed up. So Meatloaf, who likes to be called Meat, is a girl.

I wasn't sure how Elena Jamieson, who played our Meat, would take the costume I had in mind for her, but I needn't have worried. She loved it.

Elena Jamieson as Meat (Photographs by Peter Cook)

Her stunning top started life as a little black corset that had a defined curved front panel. I added lots and lots of metal studs to a pink piece of fabric and then sewed it to the front of the corset together with a bit of black cotton tape with silver eyelets down the middle. Wanting a layered look, I added a brilliant lime lycra bra and Elena wore a red lace one underneath - it looked awesome.

The frayed red denim shorts were another eBay find - I added a couple of darts to make them fit Elena better - and added an amazing leather belt - it was really heavy and sat perfectly on her hips. So, what else? Lots of backcombing of her hair and great festival dreadlocks. Pink and black wrapped arms with a single leather studded fingerless glove.  And biker boots with laddered fishnet tights. Enough said. 

The love of Meat's life is Britney Spears - or Brit. And you've guessed it, Brit is a bloke.

Joe Williams as Brit (Photographs by Peter Cook)

Joe Williams, who played our Brit, didn't seem at all fazed that I was putting him in a skirt. I had great fun cutting and tearing an old tartan kilt - the wool was rather worn and ripped beautifully. I added some small "moth holes" as well as bigger tears - although I'm sure they could only be seen by the first few rows of the audience, I am a bit of a fanatic about detail!  I also added loads of metal chains, old jewelry charms, buckles and kilt pins - the sort of "accessories" a bohemian would have scavenged from the old rubbish tips.   

Brit likes his "bling" so I also gave him a peace sign medallion necklace and studded leather punk wrist and hand bands. I made his t-shirt by rough cutting a standard black tee into a ragged vest shape and ironing on an image I'd created using a computer graphic program. See my blog post on the Ga-Ga kids for more on creating iron on motifs.

Picture of girl bohemian cast member wearing yellow builders hat and jacket
Bob the Builder

Ok, so what about the rest of the Bohemians. Although I helped out a bit with some bits of pieces of clothing and I mended Madonna's boobies, they made their own costumes inspired by the characters they had created. And boy did they go to town.

Although there are a few long standing characters, WWRY productions constantly change bohemian characters to update the show with current favourite stars and to introduce new gags.

So basically you can pick who you like.

We had all the most well loved rock and pop stars of all times. The Spice Girls and Puff Daddy. Lady Ga-Ga and Charlotte Church. Jedward. Big Macca (Paul McCartney) and Cliff Richard. And many more. But of course we had the most iconic rock star of all. Bob. "And I'm Bob. Bob the poet. Bob the rebel. Bob the prophet. I am.... Bob the Builder"

I'll leave you with some more photos. See if you can guess who some of the characters are.

(Photographs by Peter Cook)

(Photograph by Peter Cook)

Bohemians in Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Photograph by Peter Cook)

And that's all from We Will Rock You. I'll be back next year with a series of posts on Les Miserables costumes.

The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production. 
Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

WWRY Costumes Part 3 - She's a Killer Queen

Ellie as Killer Queen (Photos by Peter Cook)
Killer Queen was one of my favourite costumes to create even though I did have a few sleepless nights over it.

In the full musical production, Killer Queen wears a number of fantastic outfits - a red leather laced up catsuit, a gold leopard print coat, metallic silver and lots and lots of black leather.   But I only needed one for her in the LRVS showcase. Which one to choose?

Ellie James, who played our Killer Queen has the most gorgeous colour hair and I wanted her to be in black to really maximise on this. So in the end, it was quite an easy choice - a long black leather coat. 

An easy choice maybe, but not easy to make. I panicked and bought the first full length leather coat I saw on eBay. It was perfect in many ways - great condition and really expensive looking even though it cost me less than a tenner. But..... far too big on Ellie - I needed a more fitted sexy look. I was not happy, especially as I then saw loads more for sale.....

But I decided to stick with it as it was lovely and soft - so I rather bravely cut it up. I cut it right across the middle just above the natural waist and made the back of the top narrower by taking a seam in right up the centre. I had to open up the lining and unpick part of the facing to get the collar to sit right but in the end it looked great - it really hugged her figure. As I'd made the back very narrow, I didn't need to do anything with the front - it sat really well on her shoulders and the extra width at the front folded back brilliantly as wide lapels. It all sounds as it it was easy - but trust me - it was more luck than skill in this case.
(Photos by Peter Cook)

So what to do with the bottom half. Although the original coat was long enough, it wasn't very full - more of a gentle A-line than a half circle. I decided to insert v-shaped panels to change the shape, using lovely metallic silver lame fabric stiffened with interfacing so it was a similar weight to the leather.

I found the leather was too thick to re-join the top and skirt directly so I used more of the stiffened lame to create a waistband and sewed the top and skirt to that instead.  The coat looked amazing - it really swirled around her legs as she strode across the stage.

Under the coat, I added a gold zip up metallic corset and a fantastic wide leather studded belt that had a really striking buckle. Ellie provided tight black leggings and boots to finish the whole thing off perfectly.

She was the most awesome killer queen - arrogant and scary - which is just so unlike her personality - a brilliant piece of acting Ellie.

The Killer Queen's right hand man - Khashoggi - is a great character - subservient and grovelling, but secretly wishing he was in charge. I made a really cool Matrix style coat for Jack, who played our Khashoggi - and I'm really gutted I don't have a photo of him wearing it. Like Ellie's coat, I made sure it had quite a full skirt that Jack used to great effect during his scenes and in the credits and encore!

Khashoggi kept the rest of the Killer Queen's minions in their places. The Super Yuppies worshiped and fawned over the Killer Queen - especially when her steely gaze fell on them!  She had a lot of minions - and I mean a lot! 26 of them! You can tell she didn't need to do her own cleaning - for those who have seen the full production - we didn't do the Fat Bottomed Girls scene - which is just as well as a lot of our yuppies are still in primary school and I think their parents would have objected to bikini costumes and feather dusters!

Chastened Super Yuppies (Photos by Peter Cook)
So I dressed our Super Yuppies as Executives - perfect for the two scenes we were doing - Killer Queen and Play the Game. School uniform trousers, black shoes and pinstriped jackets. Yes really - I bought 26 identical pinstripe jackets off eBay.

I was really lucky to stumble across a seller with surplus high street clothing stock - and he had a load of ladies jackets. OK, even though they were small sizes, some of them were a bit big for our younger cast members, but I roped in some "willing" volunteers on the dress rehearsal night to sew up the hems and cuffs - thank you ladies.

I wanted to add some sparkle to the outfits but it would have taken hours to sew on, so I backed a few metres of cheap silver sequin fabric with iron on bondaweb  - similar to the stuff you use to turn up no-sew hems - and cut out some sharp looking strips that I ironed on. As they were grovelling around on the floor I did need to "rescue" loose sections over the three nights with a pot of fabric glue, but generally it worked very well.

I also glued strip of the silver fabric around the left wrist of the jackets - perfect for text messaging! 

One of the mums offered to do some amazing sparkly make-up. Even though she had an army of helpers, we were all gutted when we just didn't have enough time during the interval to do it exactly as she had planned. It was a pretty quick change during the interval from Les Mis street urchins with dirty faces and bird's nest hair. We barely had time to get pony tails in and wash off the smudges.   

A hasty re-think and a bit of practice and by the final night, every Yuppy was sparkling brilliantly with glitter on their faces and in their hair. 
Some of the LRVS Super Yuppies (Photos by Peter Cook)

The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production.

Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

WWRY Costumes Part 2 - I want to break free

A misfit and a dreamer. Scaramouche and Galileo. Our heroes of the story.

(Photo by Peter Cook)
Scaramouche doesn't conform to the Ga Ga kids look and doesn't want to be a Teen Queen. "I make my own fashion statement" she snarls.

Black. On black. A bit goth-like. Great said Emily Langford who played an amazing Scaramouche -I'm up for it.

Scaramouche with Teen Queens (Photos by Peter Cook)

As usual the quick changes dictate the costumes - I layered a couple of  black jersey tops to cover up the corset Emily's wearing underneath and added a dipped hem circular skirt I made out of lycra.

Emily added black tights and biker boots, with a studded collar. And strange plaits in her hair - with a bus ticket woven in too. Told you she makes her own fashion statement.

Scaramouche undergoes a bit of a transformation later in the story when she meets up with the Bohemians and they dress her in clothes they have scavenged and customised. Off go the black goth rags and out comes a sexy rock chick in black and red.

This was a fun costume to do - corset, leather skirt, lace and lots of accessories. I had a bit of a false start, when the black halterneck corset I ordered from China just didn't work (and don't mention the matching g-string).

Emily Langford as Scaramouche (Photo by Peter Cook)
I bought a simple black bustier and added some red trim. I found some great red eyelet ribbon which I used to create "boning" and I threaded red leather cord through the eyelets so it hung in soft loops. I added a black lace bra which I tore and put red fabric underneath. Under it all, Emily wore a black lace shrug. I found that adding lots of layers to a costume really gives it depth - it looks "real".

And she wore lots of accessories too - lace gloves, torn net sleeves, studded wrist bands. Even though she was wearing the corset, bra and shrug under her goth t-shirts, there was still quite a lot to put on side of stage for her quick change.

And let's not forget the skirt. Red leather - real red leather. I found a really cheap long red leather skirt on eBay and cut it up to create a tiered wrap around skirt that Emily could quickly put on. Using the bottom half of the skirt, I managed to get two slightly arc shaped pieces of fabric from the fabric - one slightly longer than the other - that were mid thigh length on Emily. 

I cut the bottom of each piece into gentle curves and put the shorter layer on top of the longer one so that the curves overlapped each other in an irregular way. A narrow waistband held the two together. The leather was really soft and although I worried my sewing machine wouldn't sew it, it actually coped really well. I just had to go slowly over the thicker seams. And as leather doesn't fray I didn't need to do hems or turn the waist band edges under. Sewing on velcro and hook and eye fasteners was actually the hardest part!

It looked amazing and I customised it with some studs and metal chains. You can buy cheap metal chain by the metre and bags of different studs on eBay as well as specialist goth supply shops.

Brandon Gale as Galileo (Photo by Peter Cook)
In contrast, poor old Galileo gets a raw deal on the costume front. Denim jeans. White t-shirt. And a leather jacket. All of which he provided himself.

Galileo was brilliantly played by Brandon Gale - who looked perfect.  And I have to admit to sneaking downstairs to see the amazing Bohemian Rhapsody song every night when I was supposed to be packing away the costumes. You were amazing.

This is the last year Emily and Brandon will be at LRVS - Emily is off to Mountview and Brandon has been offered a place at Arts Educational.

Scaramouche and Galileo (Photo by Peter Cook)

Congratulations! We will miss you both - but I'm sure we'll see you treading the boards on the West End one day soon.

Ok, enough for today. Next time we'll be joined by the Killer Queen and her minions. 

The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production. 
Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

WWRY Costumes Part 1 - Radio Ga Ga

Dynamite with a laser beam. Guaranteed to blow your mind. We Will Rock You (WWRY) is the most amazing musical - I just love it. And if you haven't seen it, here's the plot in a nutshell.  

Set in the future, the mega corporation, Globalsoft, sends computer generated music to everyone on the planet and has banned singing, musical instruments, and any expression of creativity. But a group of rebels (the Bohemians) are looking for music from years gone by that is spoken about in the Lost Texts. The two heroes, Galileo and Scaramouche, discover musical instruments buried in rock, which they use to vanquish the head of the corporation (The Killer Queen), sending the Power Of Rock around the world to free the people, letting real music live again. 
Celebrating 25 years of teaching for Louise Ryan  
Celebrating 25 years of teaching, the Louise Ryan Vocal School 2013 Showcase included a number of the great solo and group numbers from WWRY.

I had such a great time with these costumes - it was quite liberating to leave the history books behind and go futuristic - lots of sexy, sharp, shiny, metallic fabrics - and that was just for the lads. OK, joking apart, these costumes were fun, fun, fun. 

Ga-Ga kids in white t-shirts and shorts
Ga Ga Kids (Photographs by Peter Cook)

Our WWRY showcase started with the Ga Ga kids. Dressed identically. Moving identically. Listening to Radio Ga Ga...

Set just as school breaks up for the summer - the Ga Ga kids are all "perfect" sporty looking clones. Dead easy to re-create, with logo tops, an assortment of shorts, skirts and leggings, and white trainers. 

Given the age of our chorus ranged from 7 to 18, I decided simple t-shirts would be more appropriate than my original idea of skimpy cropped tops. I varied the look with different sleeve lengths and necks, but allocated them out to the kids in a pattern to create a sense of order on the stage. The logo was easy to create - I set out the letters G A G A onto red and yellow squares and reverse printed them onto t-shirt transfer paper. Ironing them onto the t-shirts was a doddle - but I did have to hang them all up to cool and set - 36 in total - they took a while! 
We Will Rock You chorus in Radio Ga Ga costumes
Radio Ga Ga (Photographs by Peter Cook)

I picked up most of the shorts and skirts off eBay and ran them through the washing machine with GloWhite to brighten them up. It was really hard matching sizes to styles for each cast member so in the end I bought a few more than I needed in various styles and sizes and just let the kids loose to rummage through and choose their own. It worked, thank goodness. 

So a chorus of 36? Wow. 

Teen Queens (Photographs by Peter Cook)

The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production.
Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Denim on Denim

(Or a sneaky peek at WWRY costumes!)

My teenage daughter Elen's been doing loads of dip dying and customising of denim - the results are looking fabulous and quite a few of her friends have asked if she'll make some for them.

But the house looks like a bomb site. I am having real difficulty finding somewhere to do my own sewing as we seem to have offcuts of denim and little metal studs everywhere. And dye - you don't dare put down anything in the utility room - just in case there are little stray flecks of dye powder. So small you don't see them, until you put a clean sheet or t-shirt on top! Time for a good clean up.

It was exactly the same last winter - when I was in costume making mode! Readers of my earlier posts may remember that LRVS were doing a showcase of three musicals this year and I've already shared some stories about The Sound of Music costumes - check out The Old Button Costumes page for easy links if you missed them.

I think I'll leave Les Miserables until the winter - it doesn't seem to feel right during summertime which I'm hoping its going to be warm - and start to tell you about We Will Rock You instead. Which is very apt as the first customised denim stuff done in our house was for WWRY costumes.

Now one of my all time favourite musicals, I wasn't really keen on We Will Rock You Over (or WWRY for short) to start. In fact a number of years ago, I turned down the chance to see the West End production when it toured to Cardiff. I love Queen and thought a musical based on their songs just wouldn't be able to do their music justice. And the plot seemed really silly - futuristic earth dominated by the cyberspace and brainwashed kids who are trying to find real music.

And the first time I saw it in London last year, it was more to get inspiration for the costumes rather than really wanting to see it. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it - energetic cast, great choreography - especially the Super Yuppies - and Queen's songs were cleverly woven into the story. And the jokes were brilliant - especially the one about Ernie, the fastest milkman in the west.

I loved this Benny Hill Christmas hit song from my childhood so looked it up when I got back home - here's a link to the YouTube video if you want to take a look yourself.  Brilliant. Really clever lyrics, perfect comic timing and I just love his facial expressions. Bit like WWRY really!

So back to the show. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll showcase the WWRY costumes made by me and the cast themselves- but until then, here is a little preview of Pop, Galileo and Scaramouche with Britney, Meat and the rest of the Bohemians. Lots of metal studs. And just a little denim on denim!

LRVS Showcase 2013 - We Will Rock You (Photograph by Peter Cook)