by Justin Brady
If you are like me, scrambling at the last minute to create something suitable to wear for Halloween, look no further than these imaginative theatrical getups. Wardrobe can be a stunning part of any performance, and yet Indy’s costume designers may be among the city’s most under-appreciated artists. Here are four recent productions with innovative costumes to spark your creativity.
The Company: NoExit Performance
Designer: Michael Burke
Idea: Get thrifty with clever use of cardboard.
NoExit Performance leaves no detail of the creative vision behind, including the clothing design. Resident costume artist Michael Burke generally has a very thrift-store chic style, but he had to think outside the box -- literally -- to bring Alice vs. Wonderland to life within as a video game. Using cardboard, Burke's collaborators Beverly Roche and Lukas Felix Schooler made the characters look as if they were part of a pixelated old-school video game. Combining their boxes with Burke's fabric costumes, the end result looked remarkable.
The Company: Shadow Ape Theatre Company
The Designer: Rob and Jen Johansen with Delia Neylon Robertson
The Idea: Elevate costume’s Wow! factor with stilts
Aside from Halloween, the most prominent time of the year for costumes, especially in Indy, is in August during Gen Con, the largest convention known to gamers. Suitably during this year’s Gen Con, Shadow Ape Theatre Co. performed Jen/Con, a play that explored the difficulties of being married to a gamer. Through expert costuming, Rob Johansen transformed from a slacker gamer to an evil dark lord, while Jen Johansen ruled supreme. Both characters were elevated over the action on cleverly concealed stilts.
The Company: Dance Kaleidoscope
The Designer: Barry Doss
The Idea: Show up as a tribal dancer
Dance Kaleidoscope's performance attire often entails form-fitting, brightly colored spandex numbers, but last week’s performance of Carmina Burana required an array of transformative costumes to tell the story. The piece began with striking gold warrior garments that mostly obscured the dancers’ identity. My favorite, though, was the men’s furry warrior pants that mad them look as if they were wearing the lower half of Chewbacca, but they were held up by suspenders. I can’t imagine the heat involved with dancing in those. If you create your own tribal warrior getup, perhaps you should opt for a more breathable, raffia-type grass skirt instead. Just sayin’ ...
The Company: Zach Rosing Production
The Designer: Daniel Klingler
The Idea: Reimagine your favorite cult-character with a bold new look.
Rocky Horror Picture Show is guaranteed to be this year’s best costume party in town. Daniel Klingler has quickly become one of the city’s leading professional hair, makeup and costume designers, racking up theatrical credits around town. Here he teamed up with costume designer Ashley Keifer to put a fresh spin on beloved characters, whose fans in the audience will probably be dressed in their over-the-top likeness. See the professional characters yourself as the show runs at the Athenaeum, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1. You just can’t go wrong emulating cult classic characters, even if you do wind up being the fourth Dr. Frank N. Furter at a party.