8 January 2011

Happy 2011!

Greetings to all, I hope you all had marvellous holidays and new year's and are full of excitement and plans for 2011!!

I have been absent for some time, it's been Panto season [I love panto] and I have been uber busy costuming the young cast of Aladdin [oh yes I have]. I would love to share some of it with you, unfortunately I haven't seen as many decent shots of the costumes as would like and regretfully none of my genies, who looked lovely. However I will post below a few snippets.

As is traditional it was set in China, but the director wanted a '50s feel. In my design this became fairly traditional Chinese peasant wear up until the point the Genie of the Lamp makes Aladdin rich at when everyone reappears glammed up in tuxs and gorgeous 50s dresses. Quite a few of the costumes were genuine vintage garments.

From Mandarin rags

... to 50s party time riches!

  I put quite a bit of thought in 1950's Aladdin and decided that since he spent so much time daydreaming about being rich and "living the life", that he would be greatly influenced by the Golden Screen too. Therefore his icons would be Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean which is wear I got Aladdin's look and was fortunate that out traditionally female, principal boy could carry off that look. Once enriched she does swap to a more typical principal boy look, but reappears in a later scene dressed as Bruce Lee!

Here is Aladdin in the cave with the lamp, which was also my handiwork (modroc, newspaper and a Cheerios box in a previous life-form!)

Within the company were some very talented acrobats and to showcase their talents, we created "cave nymphs" to present the lamp from amongst the treasure to Aladdin after a breath-stopping acro-balance display.

The stock characters, Wishee Washee and the dame, Widow Twankee, were just fun and silly and garish.   I really liked my utterly mismatched WW and the actor had so much charm he made the costume work well.  Here are a couple of snaps of "mother" and son:

A couple of costume details for you.  Instead of fabric gloves, Twankee had pink marigolds, upon coming rich these were fur-trimmed in pink, sparkly maraboa to complement her gorgeous pink floral kimono and [genuine] '50s ladies hat.  WW had the most lovely tie made entirely of pearls!  The eccentric looking fellow in the middle is the Emperor, based apparently on Prince Phil!  The smoking jacket and relaxed bow-tie were all in preparation for the seduction of Twankee...

Onto the baddie.  Well he was not truly evil in a downright nasty way, but cunning and devious.  And as things go in Pantoland, a little bit unexpected.  We had been loaned a stage dalek, so naturally a TARDIS was written into the script, it had been comandeered by the evil Abanazer so that he may go hunting for his dead father's treasure trove and the lamp.  In a discussion with the director on a damp and cold summer afternoon, while sat in the member's restaurant of Tate Modern, I pitched the idea that as well as having the TARDIS, Ab should take on the doctors ever-changing personas, basically every time he came on stage he would be dressed as a different doctor...

Of the eleven, I chose ones that would be most familar to kids and adults and so we had Matt Smith, David Tennant in both his brown pin-stripes and his blue with overcoat, Tom Baker and Peter Davidson.  I hope I can get complete photos of the costumes, but here are a couple below.  For the scene where Ab has kidnapped Jasmine and headed back to Gaza, he reverts to his true evil self and dons black robe and mantle.

His side-kick, is an adrogenous '50s styled fusion design, she wore flat brogues, swing pants, military style blouse, vest and tie in shades of brown, because as we later find out she is not truly evil at heart.  In the Tom Baker scene (and I apologise now for the atrocious wig, I asked for something better but didn't get) she is dressed as a leprechaun (I have no idea why but it paved the way for a lovely gag).

And finally but certainly not least, little Mango's stage debut as the Apprentice Genie.  Her outfit is based on the Flower Fairy patterns and is in rainbow organza.  I made it a little big so she can get some wear out of it and it needs some repairs so I will photograph her in it at a later time.  Cue shameless posting of my sweetie-pie!

On safari in a flight case she hi-jacked!
Mixing wallpaper paste a la Witches of the Scottish Play!

Incidentally, she ended up head to toe covered in wallpaper paste and papier mache as did a radius of about a metre of linoleum.  But she had incredible fun (and I learned how difficult it is to get paste off lino!).

And so there you have a little bit of Aladdin.  It was a great show, the teenagers in it worked extremely hard and there is some incredible talent within the group, the punters certainly liked it and the feedback was that it was on a par with the mainstream pantos which is great considerng the only industry pros were myself and the director!  I certainly had a great time working on it, despite sleepless nights and early starts and a budget of just £12.50 per actor!

Performance of Aladdin, December 2010 by Young Theatre at Beaconsfield. 
Written and Directed by Mark Oldknow.  Photography by Josh Martin.


  1. Wow, you have been busy! I LOVE the fact you had a TARDIS and a dalek in the panto and your costumes look great. Mango looks so cute!

    Hope you guys have a great New Year.

  2. Thank you Toria, now why am I not surprised that you appreciate the Dr Who theme?! Haha. Sadly the DT pics were just too dark to use but you can be sure I did him justice!

    Hope you are having a great start to the NY too, looking fwd to catching up on reading people's blogs!