April 18, 2015

Zombies, Sprites & Ghosts, Oh My!

I feel a little silly writing today's post, and not just because of the title, but given the gorgeous weather we have been treated to today as well as the past few days...however, continuing right along with the past projects, the Young Open & Honest Player's (YOHP) A Christmas Carol High School (2013) is up next!

During senior year, I had the opportunity to costumes for three productions at the Young Open & Honest Players, Penfield's community theater.  Each show - Christmas Carol High School (2013), Picnic (2014) and Nothing is Written: A Collection of One Acts (2014) - seemed better than the last, and I could not have asked for a better time.  I am just so grateful to Pam Mount, the director, and the fabulously talented actors over at YOHP (who also willingly agreed to pose for portfolio pictures - thanks!)

A Christmas Carol High School,  the wild play written by Mark Landon Smith, is a spin off of Dickens' beloved holiday classic.  Set at West End High School during their holiday play, Romeo & Juliet, Meredith Priestly, the most popular and meanest student in the school, has a change of heart after five ghosts visit to show her the error of her mean ways.  (Look!  We even made the newspaper: http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/penfield/?p=6572)

The drama unfolds...

This show featured a complex costume plot - from Romeo & Juliet play practice costumes, to cheerleading uniforms, and to various "flashback" scenes at prom and at the children's holiday party.  (Many thanks go to STAGES for letting us borrow costumes.)  College and creating a portfolio was definitely on my mind at the time, so I choose to focus on the costumes for the five Christmas characters - Gwendolyn, the head ghost; Patty & Patrick Prince, the zombie cheerleaders of Christmas past; Lilliput, the sprite of Christmas present; and, Death, the silent figure of Christmas future.

A happy family of Christmas spirits.

Starting with the Gwendolyn, the slightly crazy, winged, Victorian ghost, weighed down for all eternity by the empty tomato cans of her awful, past deeds:

Our resident, Victorian, "friendly spirit."

Or, in other words, the most difficult and most time consuming of the ghost costumes.  I had originally wanted to create a late-Victorian style dress with a large bustle and the whole nine yards, as they say.  However, the actress literally had seconds to change in and out of the costume as the scenes switched from the present to the past and future; so, the dress, wings and wig were more than enough to worry about.

The before: a wedding dress that had seen one too many performances
and was literally falling apart at the seams...

The after: an outfit fit for a Victorian ghost!

Back view with the lace train.

Gwendolyn's dress was constructed in three parts - the dress, the bustled overlay and the belt with various cans suspended from fishing line.  To achieve that "came from an attic: look, I attacked the dress with plenty of leaves, hollyberry clumps and layers of cobwebs, especially to hide the belt.  Really, there was no plan or order, just lots and lots of safety pins as the clock was ticking!  Scraps of lace were also tied to each can.

For just about every show I've costumed at YOHP, this actress, who is a good friend of mine, has received some sort of crazy wig!  This time, I hunted for out-of-control curls, teased them and added a holly branch wreath and cobwebs.

Issuing a warning of the doom to come...
Next up, the two zombies of Christmas past, Patty & Patrick Prince, who were once cheerleaders at West End High School - that is in the 1950s.  They received red uniforms and the "W's" to match the loaned cheerleading costumes:

Smiling to the grave, 1950s zombie cheerleaders!

Lilliput, the friendly sprite of Christmas present!  This sprite is not to be confused with the caffeine-free soft drink:


For Lilliput's costume, I was aiming for something gossamer and sprite-like.  Through lots of playing around with pins and sewing, I ended up splicing two separate dresses together.  Clumps of holly branches were tacked to the shoulder and side, along with some package bows to complete the costume and play up the "present" joke.  (Sprite of Christmas present, not present as in the gift that comes wrapped with a bow, haha...terrible, I know.)  A dark red wig (that, for the record, needed combing every five minutes) with Christmas elements was added for a merry pop of color.

The before dress.

The after dress front.

The after dress back.  I just loved how gossamery the costume turned out!

Also of note, I made a pretty, pretty princess, pink and sparkles, cone hat for Juliet!  The base was constructed from Pellon ultra firm stabilizer, covered with pink satin and an overlay of pink chiffon with sequins(?), and lined with white poly-broadcloth.  Also featured a light pink chiffon veil and sequin trim.

Best friends forever...

Thanks for reading!  


  1. I love the costumes for A Christmas Carol High School! You have a great sense of humor! the Juliet hat is lovely! I never thought of using ultra firm stabilizer for that sort of hat! I had to make one when I dressed up as a princess for a library program and just used poster board covered in fabric.

  2. Thank you, Jill, it is always such a pleasure to hear from you! I'm glad my writing came off as humorous, rather than ridiculously corny ;) As for princess hats, poster board is a great idea too (and I bet the children sure loved your library program)! Although, I have to say, the Pellon worked very well for CCHS as the poor hat kept getting stepped on...Anneliese :)