“This musical is a play, times ten”, exclaimed Zahra Jangbar (BFA Costume Design). “It’s huge, campy and cheesy. Musicals have multiple numbers and all the actors on stage must have a cohesive look.” The band scenes were the most challenging, given the number of participants. It required correct sizing and a keen eye for detail. The production is full of hidden costume tricks and quick changes. Sometimes the dressers have mere seconds to officiate a costume change. The lead character, Elle Woods, played by India Jarvis has 38 costume pieces and the most number of changes, including a pink dress that gets ripped off to reveal another garment underneath. “In the costume trade, we call it quick rigging,” explains Morgan Louie (BFA Costume Design) who worked on constructing this dress that features prominently in the narrative of the show.
Technical rehearsals can be nerve-wrecking for a costume designer as there’s always a chance to identify and fix potential mishaps before the opening day. One never knows when a strap or a button or a seam can go haywire. It’s crucial to keep one’s cool backstage at all times and carry an emergency sewing kit. “Everything needs to be ready and perfect,” noted Alina Bokovikova. Thirty actors with an average of five costumes each and over 500 garments and accessories to keep track of… Legally Blonde gives the students of Costume Design an opportunity to experience the fast pace and high stakes of a large scale live musical production. “I was living in ignorant bliss, ’til I learned I could be more than this!” In words from one the show’s most beloved songs, students who worked backstage and people who enjoy it in the audience both learn a lesson in the value of practicing and staying on top of one’s dream.