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. 


  1. Hi, I'm playing Meat in a performance of We Will Rock You, and I have to source my own costume. I'm wondering where you got the corset from, and what shape you'd define it as?


  2. Hiya Sarah - thanks so much for reading my blog and congratulations on being cast as Meat - its a fabulous role. I bought Meat's corset from eBay - it was second hand. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a standard description - different people call them different things. I would describe it as a corset basque but recommend you search under both names. It was fairly short with a curved front (just like the West End stage version) - it laced at the back so I could add the pink front panel. It did cover her bust (barely) but as she wore two layered coloured bras, you may also be able to use an underbust basque.

    The most important thing is comfort and movement and that you can breathe in it. I added elastic side panels in the basque I made for Scaramouche as she needed it tight but with room for singing her huge belter songs - you could also use strong black elastic for the back laces.

    I just searched on eBay UK for you and found this one - this is the sort of shape I used

    Best of luck with your searching and I know you'll love playing Meat. Sharon

  3. Hi, I'm playing Pop in a matter of weeks but plot twist; I'm a girl, so I'm having a bit of trouble converting the hippie vibe from male to female. Do you have any ideas/ how would you do it? Also great photos! :)

  4. Hiya Jay - fantastic to be offered the role of Pop and it will be a great played by a girl.

    If I were costuming you I would go for grungy girl hippy look - rather than flower power as the Bohemians found their clothes on waste tips and in forgotten corners. Try and avoid fancy dress stuff as its too clean and brightly coloured - I use charity shops or make my own. And use lots of layers - they add reality to any costume.

    You could try a patchwork one like this:, or a more grubby crinkle one like this:

    I would go for simple t-shirt (not bright) and add a suede waistcoat with long fringes (you can buy sew on fringing from fabric shops) - although a short denim waistcoat would be good too - you could paint a peace sign on the back.

    A headband would be good - you can use a twisted or folded headscarf if you have long hair - try this video for typical style which is a bit gypsy hippy - but you could also go for the cross the forehead look.

    An other option is a groupie rather than a hippy - which suits the dialogue later in the musical - but you may end up looking too much like Meat so I would stick with your hippy thoughts.

    Have fun.

  5. Sorry - forgot to add headscarf video - here it is

  6. Hi, I'm playing Scaramouche in February and need help sourcing a costume, I want it to be as similar to the West End costume as possible, but I can't seem to find anything anywhere. Any ideas?


  7. Congratulations Emily - you'll have a great time.This is Part 4 of the WWRY costume story and you'll find info on the Scaramouche costume I created in Part 2 - copy this link into your browser - or look on the Costumes page - third tab along for the full list. I'm not sure you will be able to buy a ready made costume, but my Part 2 will give you ideas on how to adapt stuff from eBay or charity shops. Have fun.