With show time just around the corner, cast members and directors of “Les Misérables” put finishing touches on the spring musical. For Taylor Glickman, student co-head of the costume crew and junior, work started back toward the beginning of the semester and it will not stop until the final show is over.
“I’m here pretty much every day until about 5 p.m. ever since the second to last week in February,” Glickman said, “There’s always something to do; we work up until dress rehearsal and still have things to do the day of the show. The costumes never really get completely done.”
According to Glickman, the show has 78 cast members, and most have three to four costumes each. Although she’s worked on the costume crew of several other productions, she said this one is sometimes overwhelming because of the amount of costumes and work the crew needs to put into each one.
According to costume crew director Cindra Venturella, the crew has borrowed many of the costumes from local theaters and also reused parts of costumes from past school productions.
Venturella said, “Our budget is a couple thousand, and a lot comes from the students’ costume fee, but we try to be economical. This is actually a less expensive musical because we’ve reused a lot of the fabric. Probably the most expensive thing we’ve had to buy is costume dirt.”
Glickman said her student crew has 12 participants who each stay at least three days after school each week, not including the several parents who volunteer each day. Many students have learned how to sew from the school’s fashion classes, however some show up knowing nothing but willing to learn. Glickman said she likes being able to teach what she has learned from her mom; plus, the big crew with their assembly line system makes the hours of work seem much more manageable.
Besides the amount of costumes, Glickman and her crew also have to face the obstacle of making sure the costumes represent the historical time period of the musical to portray the plot as best as they can.
According to director Lamonte Kuskye, the musical takes place in Paris during the 1800s. It follows the life of Jean Valjean, starting when he is released from prison after stealing just a loaf of bread. After a bishop helps Valjean, he chooses to restart his life as a good man. Although breaking his parole, he leaves to eventually become a factory owner and mayor. Javert, a policeman always trying to enforce every law, follows Valjean throughout his life to find a reason to send Valjean to prison. Unfortunately for Javert, Valjean does everything but give Javert any reason. Throughout the serious plot, the musical provides a love story and a political rebellion, and Kuskye said there’s definitely a reason why “Les Misérables” has the nickname of the “world’s most popular musical.”
“It’s different from past musicals we’ve done, but I think everyone’s ready for something a little different and more serious,” Kuskye said.
According to Venturella, the time period and seriousness of the musical play a huge role in the costume making process, but she has worked with “Les Miserables” in the past and knows what to expect for this show.
She said, “I did this show before, but now I have a better grasp, a better concept, of it. I’m a step ahead and know where we’re headed. I’ve also seen other productions which really helps with the process.”
Venturella said setting the time period can be difficult, but portraying the class society is the main challenge.
“With this musical you have all these different classes: the upper class, the poor people, the working poor. You get to explore how each one should look,” Venturella said, “And since it’s a serious story, there’s not a lot of color in the costumes, but there are a few scenes with some fun pieces that we really get to enjoy making.”
Venturella said her favorite part of working with this play, “Les Misérables” is having whole crew that she gets to train and teach about the process of creating all the costumes for a show.
Glickman said she also likes having a whole crew because they can figure out as a group how all the parts of the costumes are going to come together. Additionally, she said they have a relationship with the actors that they would not have as a technical crew member.
“(As a member of the costume crew) you really feel like you’re a member of the cast, just without the same kind of work,” Glickman said, “We help the actors backstage and through the whole process and really get to know them and the musical without actually being on stage. I enjoy making the costumes, but I love more the camaraderie with my own crew and the actors.”