All things costumes!

How Saskia got into costuming and how she works on productions.

3/4/20245 min read

They are always looking for volunteers to help with costumes so I thought why not. One thing led to the other: the costume manager moved away and I was offered the job. They asked if I was interested and I took the position. I came on close to opening night of Mamma Mia! and soon realized the disco finale costumes still had to be sewn, yelp! Patterns and fabric were there so I had to get started right away. I was still sewing and fitting them on opening night, but when the finale came they were finished and they had their disco outfits on! It was a mad dash but felt really good to get them done on time.

I did several productions for the theater, one of the biggest ones was Funny Girl. The main character had 22 costumes during the whole show. We had to make a whole schedule and change stations backstage to be able to pull off all the quick changes. Her finale dress was stunning! I found it when I was looking for something else. We had been struggling to find something for the end of the show and when I saw this one I knew it was the one right away and it fit Samantha perfectly!

When Lucas played a part in Alice in Wonderland for a different local theater I helped there as well. One of the biggest challenges for that show was making a caterpillar costume. I converted a comforter into a costume and added feet to it. Not easy for the girl to put it on but it looked amazing. Unfortunately, combining the costuming (evening and weekend work) with an office job and being a mom was too hard and I had to stop with the costuming. We also moved a year after I had to stop.

In Marshfield Lucas went into the theater summer school class and mentioned to the teacher that I had done costuming, and guess what they had an opening as costume manager. I applied and got the job. The High School runs 2 productions a year (theater in fall, musical in spring) and the rehearsals start after school and never later than 8pm. A lot different from the theater in Pullman where productions run continuously with 8 weeks between productions and rehearsals running late (midnight) and on the weekends. The current production Anastasia is the 4th production that I work on in Marshfield. It’s been great working with the students. The way they help each other and it’s always great to see how the costumes help them get into character. Some students I have seen every production and the growth over 2 years on personal and acting level has been amazing to see and I am thankful to be (a small) part of it.

Costuming is not just putting a costume on an actor. There’s more to it before you get to that. My process always starts with reading the script first and talking with the director if the script is strict on when the play takes place or if there’s freedom in it. For example Puffs is based on Harry Potter so not a real set time it occurs but of course follows the movies, Matilda on the other hand clearly plays in the 1980’s and the current production Anastasia in the 1920’s. This makes a huge difference in what costumes can and cannot be worn. I also ask the director about the vision for the play, are there certain colors that need to be avoided with lighting ideas for example. Next I will do research online and find references on what was worn in the same production. Based on those I make a moodboard on what I am thinking. This is discussed with the director. Based on the script I make a costume plot. This is a breakdown on which character wears what in which scene and also shows if there are quick changes. The costume plot can be short: in Puffs they wear 1 costume the majority of the show or very long: Anastasia has several locations for scenes, inside, outside, Petersburg and Paris. Different locations and seasons of course means a different costume. Based on this costume plot and the cast list I can start pulling costumes. At the High School I am lucky to have a lot of costumes available in the costume closet. When I have the majority pulled we will start fittings. After fittings there’s always alterations and additions, changing etc of costumes to make them work for the play and the players.

Costumes play a huge part in the show. Imagine Star Wars with the actors in jeans, how would that look? They have to be complementary to the story and set the mood for every scene. The current production I am working on is Anastasia. Costume wise a really big one. Over 200 costumes are being used, with a lot of actors/actresses playing several parts. The costumes have to be very distinguishable so the actors aren’t remembered as one character the whole show while they play multiple characters. For example the royal Tsar family actors also all play poor civilians visiting the market in Petersburg. For the royal family costumes we dressed the sisters all in red. The dresses were pretty plain and we wanted to show off the elaborateness of the Tsar, so we added sequins and beading to the dresses. To see all the costumes come see the show on April 11-13. Visit the Marshfield School District website for tickets!

The High School musical productions are always entered in the Jerry Awards. The Jerry Awards, one of Wisconsin's High School Musical Awards Programs, encourages, recognizes and honors excellence in high school musical theater. There are several categories that get awarded and last year I won the Jerry Award for the costumes as part of the Outstanding Overall Design. Very curious if this year Marshfield High School will win an award again! Anastasia is a very challenging show for the students and in all the areas of music, dance, directing, set build and costumes but everyone is working super hard to make it the best show. Can’t wait to see it on opening night!

Besides being a real estate agent Saskia has a job as costume manager at Marshfield High School. Doing costumes is not something I studied for. I landed in it thanks to Lucas. He started doing theater workshops at the Regional Theatre of the Palouse in Pullman when we lived there. He loves being in the theater! For one of the workshops he needed a costume of Peter Pan. The hardest part on this one was that he was Wendy, Hook and Peter Pan in one dialogue and didn’t have time to change. So I made him a costume with one side being Hook, one side being Wendy and then a hand puppet that was Peter Pan. The costume was a huge success!