Ezell began her seminar on the topic of costumes, which she said was the first visible sign of exactly who and what a character was, his or her condition and occupation, and even mood could be gleaned from that character's wardrobe. In addition to tone and character identification, she described many technical considerations to costume design, such as distance from the audience, lighting contrasts, and even something as simple as mobility in costume. Ezell elaborated that even something as simple as colors in costume could identify a particular group within a production, a la Capulets and Montagues in Romeo and Juliet, or more specifically, The "Things" from the Cat in the Hat portion of Seussical the Musical.
Recalling a humorous anecdote, Ezell emphasized the need to rehearse in costume, to be able to move in wardrobe effectively, and not cause disruption. Around the age of 8, she was to perform in a piano recital. She had an aqua-blue outfit, to which her mother attached a hoop to the skirt. Her father even purchased her a faux diamond ring from Woolworth's to add additional glamour. When Ezell went to the piano to perform her number, the skirt "Poofed up, so she could not reach the keys." She said the audience laughed for 5 minutes, and she had "never been so embarrassed in her life." For that reason, she insisted that all actors "practice in whatever they will wear in the actual production from head to toe."
In attendance at the seminar were several veterans of theatrical production, including Barbara Heneisen, whose interest in theatrical work began in high school. In her experiences in production, she stated she has sewn everything from a "tutu to a sofa," and hopes to lend her experience to the upcoming Trigg County production of Seussical the Musical.
The second half hour of Ezell's workshop was dedicated to make-up, which she again said added to the illusion of a character, by demonstrating clues to physical condition and background. Make-up was imperative, according to Ezell, because the "Lady in the back of the theatre needs to see the actor's face and expressions."
Ezell went on to say that all players on stage wear make-up, not just women, to enhance facial expression, and to keep the lights from washing out the color of actors' faces without make-up. She said male novices were known to "squawk and complain" but that it was an essential part of stage work.
In addition, Ezell mentioned that major Hollywood productions often hired professional make-up artists for the players, but in legitimate, or stage theatre, actors and actresses were expected to apply their own make-up. To that end, she provided a work sheet, complete with facial model, to diagram and describe a consistent make-up plan, to be applied for each performance.
For Seussical the Musical, the concept for both make-up and wardrobe will be fantasy, in keeping with the artistic and whimsical themes of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel. Though Ezell believes that realism would be less challenging, from a production point of view, Seussical will be "A lot of fun; we will be allowed to be creative." To keep with the art in Geisel's books, she plans to use a large amount of primary colors, and make-up, to make characters such as "The Grinch" green, and embellish his sinister smile.
Another aspiring crewmember, Paula Ladd comes to the Trigg County production with a history in television. Having worked in lighting, she mentioned the need to design lighting around make-up and wardrobe, so lighting complimented, rather than contrasted colors used in wardrobe and make-up. The difference between television and legitimate theatre, from a lighting point of view, was that stage lighting needed to be subtler. "For television cameras, it needs to be more intense."
Ladd summed up the buzz around the seminar with anticipation. "I don't remember Trigg County ever having a Theatre Group."
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.