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Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Four worlds, 48 kids, and a nose.
By Mithra Ballesteros, First Stage Children's Theater
Costume Designer Karin Kopischke.
We open Disney's MY SON PINOCCHIO in about 10 days and the First Stage Costume Shop is akin to Geppetto's workshop before Christmas. Sewing machines hum constantly. A cast of 48 young performers and 8 adult actors file in and out for fittings. In the back, molded animal masks dry on the counter. Bolts of sparkly tulle are everywhere. And the nose lurks. Yet, this hustle and bustle doesn't stop Costume Designer Karin Kopischke from taking a moment to discuss her artistic vision for this production.
Inspiration for Pleasure Island.
"I really wanted to differentiate the four worlds that the audience travels through in MY SON PINOCCHIO," says Ms. Kopischke, pointing to a wall of clippings and photos that inspire the designs. "At the center of everything is Geppetto's village, and here, people are authentic and real. Everyone wears heavy clunky shoes. Their clothing is homespun in muted sepia tones with accents of green and red that are a nod to both the Italian flag and the holiday season."
Wigs awaiting fairies-in-training.
"Contrasted with this village is Pleasure Island, where Stromboli oversees a scary troop of entertainers clothed in garish colors. If Pleasure Island is a kind of nightmare, then the world of fairies is like a dream. The Blue Fairy and her Fairies-in-training flit about in sherbety gowns, carrying fiber optic wands. When they glide away, you won't know for sure if they were there," explains Kopischke.
The fourth realm is the animal world. For these costumes, Kopischke worked hard to duplicate living animals. Using anatomical drawings as a reference, she made certain that these beasts are proportioned correctly so that they are not confused with more artificial animals in the show like the boys who turn into donkeys.
Of course this is Pinocchio, so the looming costume challenge is how to lengthen a nose. If you're the production manager, this is a project that can grow on you! Many different options have been discussed, including some very complex gadgetry and some really low-tech artistry. We can only say that you readers will have to sniff out the technique for yourselves when you see it on stage!
MY SON PINOCCHIO opens Friday, November 26th at the Todd Wehr Theater and runs through December 26, 2010. Click here for tickets.