Amy Bodnar as Marguerite
SP4: National Tour

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The Scarlet Pimpernel : Broadway's Most Intriguing Musical.

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Costumes and Sets

The Costume Designer and the Set Designer work with the writers of the show to create the physical world of the musical. The composer and lyricist create the sounds of the musical, the costume and set designers create the look of the show.

 

An Interview with Jane Greenwood - Costume Designer

Jane Greenwood has designed costumes for many Broadway musicals including Once Upon a Mattress, The Little Foxes, An American Daughter, Psychopathia Sexualis, Master Class, Passion, She Loves Me, The Ballad of the Sad Café, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Burton's Hamlet, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Same Time, Next Year, California Suite, Medea, Plenty, Heartbreak House, The Iceman Cometh, Ah, Wilderness! Long Days Journey Into Night, Our Town. She has also worked extensively at Lincoln Center Theater and the worlds of Opera, Dance and Film. She is on the faculty of Yale Drama School.

 

What is a costume designer's job?

Oh, that's a big question! Well, a costume designer's job is to visually give you the pictures of who these people are that you see on stage. The job involves reading the script very carefully and finding out who all these characters are, then researching the period to find out what people wore in 1794. Look at books; look at paintings; go to museums and look at clothes that might exist from this period. We go and look at these real things. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a very real story, it is about a real event, a historical event. It's not like we're making it up. It's researching history. So in this instance, a costume designer is recreating who these people were. We have a big canvas- people in France, the mob, the nobles, the prisoners, the soldiers.

It's true that The Scarlet Pimpernel is based on historical events, but it's also an adventure story. In terms of the costumes, how do you take a historical event and give it the heightened qualities of an adventure story?

Well, you make every character as idealized and romantic as you possibly can. So the girls have never been more beautiful, and the villains have never been tougher, and the bounders who work with the Scarlet Pimpernel have never been more stalwart, strong and brave- and all of this is reflected in their clothes!

With the main character of Sir Percy, you're talking about someone who uses disguise throughout the story. What special attention did you give to the character of Sir Percy?

You have to make sure that the audience really understands that he really is an extraordinary man despite the fact that he is disguising himself as a fop, wearing effete, dandified clothes. But you also have to give them a sense that this is a man with a great strength and great purpose and integrity.

Finally, what advice would you give a young person interested in becoming a costume designer?

Look! Look at everything! Remember things! Make your eye your strongest instrument- because it's looking at what you see that you're able to absorb and use it. I'm never bored at airports- I spend my time looking at people and thinking, "now what do they do?" and "why did they choose to wear that?" and "who are they?"

Costume Sketches
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Interview with Andrew Jackness




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