Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
The Alley at U of H presents:
George Gerswin alone
Mr. Felder created and performed George Gershwin Alone, which played on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, in the West End at the Duchess Theatre, and in theatres around the country. His Composers Sonata – George Gershwin Alone; Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven, As I Knew Him; Maestro Bernstein; Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin – has been presented at dozens of theatres across the U.S. and around the world. His compositions and recordings include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano;Song Settings; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; and An American Story for Actor and Orchestra. As director, he premiered Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane at the Geffen Playhouse in 2012 and, earlier this year, produced and created scenic design for Taylor Hackford’s Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara. Mr. Felder has been a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music and is married to Kim Campbell, the first female Prime Minister of Canada.
The scenic design was very interesting. The set up that they used for the U of H stage was slightly different than what is pictured here. The curtains were on stage left behind the chair and table. All the set pieces were skewed to lean stage right. The rug that the Steinway was sitting on had its upstage left corner curled up in midair. I'd love to know how they made it stay that way. Even the two chairs and desk had curved legs and backs that made them look like they were unstable and leaning to one side. They used projections to tell the story of Gershwin's life, putting up photos of his song covers and titles, the woman that he loved, his brother, and the last photo taken of him in a Hollywood sound stage.
I didn't know that Gershwin died at 38 of a brain tumor. The way his story unfolds means that his death should be the end of the piece. However, Felder chose to continue beyond that saving the best piece of music for last. I suppose he didn't want to end the on a sad note, instead he ended with "Rhapsody in Blue". As an encore he enacted two bits from his next show, Irving Berlin.
The alley Production offices
Dennis Draper took us on a top to bottom tour of The Alley's production offices. We got to hear a full and colorful history about the founder, the spaces it's inhabited over the years, the current renovation project, and the bizarre fire that no one knew was happening.
The costume shop is amazing. It's a huge space with windows and not stuck off in the basement. The scene shop is in the basement. We got to see costume storage which was a much larger space with everything organized and up off the floor. There were boxes of shoes, not organized by style or color or period, but organized by what company member wore them. The Alley has only 12 company members right now. Costumes are orgzanized by what show they were made for. Christmas Carol has it's own storage space since it's a stock piece that gets done every year. Outside costume storage were several mannequins that were dressed from previous shows used for display. Outside the costume shop, there is a separate room for wigs. There are two wig makers on staff right now and they job in people when they need more help. There are two craft spaces: a clean room and a dirty room. The clean room is where they make hats and other items that can be made without fumes or chemicals. The dirty room contains the washer/dryer and has the spray booth that's 17 feet tall. The dirty room contains the dye vats and the spray booth where anything that produces fumes is made. Outside the crafts rooms is jewelry storage. There are several large cabinets where the entire collection is stored.
Hanging all around the walls were renderings of costumes or scenery, set models and props decorated all the hallways as we made our way down each level. There were windows at every stairway level looking down into the scene shop so that as you go about your daily business you can see the progress being made on the scenery. Outside hanging on the walls there were samples of different scenic finishes. Once we got there, the space was very large but bright and airy. At last we were taken up to the space where they have board meetings and parties. Out on the balcony there is a great view of the city and a view of the work being done to install a fly system on top of the theatre. Dennis has promised that when we come back to Houston in August, the renovations to the theatre should be completed by then and he will take us on a tour of the new facilities.
Houston Ballet Presents:
Taming of the shrew
With her independent spirit and tempestuous nature, Katherina is anything but the obedient bride of Petruchio's dreams. Their marriage is a battle of the sexes, a lively clash of wills and personalities. In his Taming of the Shrew, John Cranko has created a fun and dazzling display of moods, virtuoso dancing and vivid characterization. More than any other ballet, The Taming of the Shrew pays tribute to the brilliance and wit for which Shakespeare is known.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1969)
Music: Kurt-Heinz Stolze (1926-1970),
after Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Choreography: John Cranko
Costume Design and Scenic Designs by: Susan Benson
Lighting: Steen Bjarke
Talking about the show: tights same color as floor from the cheap seats. Beautiful pink and green color palette. The costumes were rented from Canada. Talk about scenic and cosutme design: same designer from Canada. They first did this show four years ago and just got the same costumes and scenery.
Total cost of the event: 2 tickets for $40. We were at the top of the second balcony. You really couldn't get any higher up than we were. The view from our seats was terrifying and we felt like at any moment we could tip out of our seats and fall all the way back down to earth and die. The photo really does not convey the terrifying and precarious rake to the balcony and the lack of seat backs in front of us to make us feel secure. If we ever go back we will not sit in the cheap seats again.
There were all kinds of drinks and food available for purchase, Rob bought a bottle of water for $3.
The Meet and Greet afterwards was also free.
taming of the shrew gallery
taming of the shrew preview
So what's it like to work for Houston Ballet? She really likes it, everyone is really nice, the dancers are really polite and respectful. She does crafts too. She's made a ton of tutus. She gets her own parking space. They sometimes have to work overtime for which they get paid time and a half for every hour over the normal 8 hour work day. If it's a Saturday and they work 8 hours for time and a half and then they have to work more hours, they get double time for overtime on Saturday and Sunday. It happened for Romeo and Juliet. They are never just working on one show at a time. Usually they have three shows in the shop at once. The amazing amount of detailing each costume gets is the reason that they builds take so much overtime. Even though we were in the cheap seats for Shrew, I could still see the embellishments on each costume. If you look at the gallery photos you can see what I mean by an amazing level f detail in each and every costume.
Here's a bit more about the last two mainstage shows that Shanna's built costumes for: Zodiac and Romeo and Juliet.
Eduardo Sicangco was the costume designer. There wasn't time to build any of the headpieces that he had wanted. Shanna felt that it was difficult to tell who was which character without them.
romeo and juliet gallery
The leather masks for the ball scene were purchased from Italy.
Romeo and Juliet preview
The museum district trip
Admission was free.