By Shelby Gerken J1 reporter “Be Our Guest!” The curtain closes as singing silverware, plates and napkins wow the audience with the magic of “Beauty and the Beast.” Friends, family and audience members enjoyed four sold out performances Oct. 27 through 30.
Few really know what happens after the curtain call. The audience enjoys the enchantment on-stage, but little do they know what all went into the enchantment. It’s not easy to go from a villager in a poor-provincial town to a spoon performing in the Beast’s castle. It takes a village to make it happen.
For many years, Marian has been using Ibsen’s, a costume rental company. Choreographer and Production Manager, Mrs. Michelle Delisi is in charge of ordering the costumes.
“Marian has been long time clients of Ibsen’s Costume Gallery. I contact the owner via email as soon as the musical has been approved. He puts us on his calendar and he and I work out the timeline of getting measurements to him and picking up/returning the costumes,” Delisi said.
The production had a total of 82 costumes both big and small. Delisi, along with the help of all the directors plus 15 students, transported four tall costume racks and 48 stuffed totes of wigs, hats and accessories. To transport all of these is a huge task. They rented a 20-foot U-Haul truck and made two trips from Marian to the Ibsen’s gallery on 50th and Hamilton Street in Dundee.
Some of the costumes were harder to move than others. The castle staff costumes, including Mrs. Potts’ and Cogsworth’s costumes, had to be strapped in place on the truck, Delisi said.
Once the costumes have been adjusted to the cast’s measurements and they weare transported to the school, Delisi and the directors laid out and organized all the costumes for the cast to find easily.
Just a week before opening night, it was time to start dress rehearsals and practice with them. The performers needed time to adjust their movements to such large costumes.
Characters such as Madame de la Grande Bouche, played by junior Maddie Smith, had a challenging wardrobe costumes. “It took maybe a couple of rehearsals to get used to it, but the hardest part was really just figuring out how to move on stage with it,” Smith said.
The main characters weren’t the only cast members with large and slightly awkward costumes to get used to.
Freshman Eleanor Kolterman, who was a part of the ensemble, wore a “backpack” costume for the enchanted castle scenes. These “backpacks” allowed cast members to become the inanimate objects the audience saw on-stage. They were called backpacks because the large items hung off of shoulders on a metal frame just like a backpack.
“It took me a good three to four days to be completely used to wearing and dancing in the costume without getting somewhat irritated,” Kolterman said.
“Our biggest fear was having something bust or rip terribly that we would have to pay the replacement cost. Luckily, NOTHING happened!” Delisi said.
Junior Margaret McGill, who played Mrs. Potts, shares her concern about her own costume. “I was a bit nervous to see my costume because I was worried it would be too small for me, but it actually fit really well. I think that Ibsen’s made adjustments to all the costumes, because most of our costumes fit perfectly.”
Another major factor of using multiple costumes was quick costume changes. Some cast members experienced up to six costume changes.
“My costume changes were very quick but once we got them down it was very smooth,” Junior Abi Howard said. She played Belle and had five costume changes.
“Quick changers were a little bit of a hassle,” Junior Jadin Martinez said. “But I would put the next costume out, ready to go when I came back to change.” She had three changes.
The cast was fortunate to have a crew of seven girls on the costume crew. These girls helped cast members with quick changes and the cast couldn’t have done it without them.
Senior Sophia Tripp was a part of the costume crew. “Costume changes would typically take two people for this production depending on how long the actor had. Abi [Howard] had a quick change and we had around 30 seconds to help her change.”
As one could see, without the costumes running smoothly, the show would not be possible. A cast member, sophomore Clara Hawkins had a costume scare in her role of Chip. She had a “box” as a costume where she would go inside it and just pop out her head.
“The first box was super cramped, and I had zero space. By the end of the first night I had a lot of bruises. Then Danny Feld, our set designer, built me a brand new box that had a lot more space and it even had a chair inside!”
Though the costumes caused extra stress and hassle, they were unique and special. “Beauty and the Beast” would not be “Beauty and the Beast” without them. Could you imagine “Be Our Guest” with a costume of t-shirts and jeans?
The moment when the cast puts on the costumes was a special moment.
“It’s such a magical moment to see everything come together and to finally visualize the characters the way they’re meant to be seen,” Smith said.
“I was very happy when I first saw our backpacks and I’ve heard from multiple people that the sparkly backpacks made the “Be Our Guest” scene one of their favorites,” Kolterman said, “so I know that they made a big difference in the long run.”
“I think that since the show’s costumes were so stylized and specific that they looked really good and made the show that much better,” freshman ensemble member Clara Kizer said. “Also the glitter on my costume was so much fun and one of my favorite show moments was getting into my costume for the first time.”
Marian students feel they are lucky that the productions were able to have access to these resources, because not all high schools do. All who are a part of the production believe the costumes added a magical effect to the story of the production and were worth it.