Roughly 800 costume pieces, 81 wigs and 10 wardrobe assistants have their own production going on backstage at Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast," which started its two-week run Tuesday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
DISNEY’S ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’
» Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Held at 4 p.m. for an extra charge.
The girls in the ensemble have 10 costume changes alone, explained wardrobe supervisor Brit Baines, and three assistants are assigned specifically to Belle, portrayed by Liz Shivener.
"Just as much choreography goes on backstage as you see on stage," Baines said. "There’s a flurry of costume changing going on."
The costumes were designed by Ann Hould-Ward, and among the most elaborate is the dress worn by Madame La Bouche, the opera singer who was turned into an enchanted wardrobe, with her own little closet within her gown.
"It’s definitely one of the bigger pieces, weighing about 15 pounds," Baines said.
The Beast’s costume is not all that complicated, but has a lot of layers, she said. It takes actor Justin Glaser about 45 minutes for hair and makeup but he can suit up in about 10 minutes. The body piece worn underneath creates broad hips, muscles and a hunchback effect, which makes the Beast more realistic looking.
The character mask and makeup and the secrets to his onstage transformation into human form are kept under tight wrap. Michael Braxton, the show’s national sales manager, has seen the show on numerous occasions, but has yet to figure out how the Beast changes into the Prince at the musical’s climax. "I’ve been working with them since 1999 and haven’t been allowed a sneak peek. It’s all about the Disney magic," he said.
Many of the pieces snap into place, making them easy to remove, launder and ship from city to city, according to Baines. "Everything is really heavy," she said.
"Belle’s yellow dress is only half the size of the original dress that Belle wore on Broadway, though," Baines said. The actress wears a hooped skirt underneath the gown. To create a "new" gown, a dainty pink overlay with roses and a few embellished pieces is added at the end of the show. Belle also has hair and jewelry changes.
An ensemble of male gargoyles is new to the show. "They look like part of the Beast’s castle. They don’t have speaking parts and are designed to move sets," Baines said. "They come to life and move pieces around creating new scenes. The gargoyles have not been seen on Broadway or in any other production."
Their costumes are layered over a unitard painted with musculature. A creepy-looking shoulder piece is attached and a tail added to complete the creature look. "When the costumes are painted and layered, it gives it more depth and makes things much more exciting," Baines said.
Other costumes include a welcome mat that on first glance appears like a simple rectangle, "but it can stretch, bend and do lots of fun things," she said. Dancing cutlery, plates, napkins and salt and pepper shakers add color and razzle-dazzle.
Costume mishaps are inevitable and Baines often is called upon to make repairs under less-than-ideal circumstances. "I can sew very fast in the dark," she said.
For quick fixes, staple guns, glue and even sticky tape have done the trick. No extra costumes are available, so Baines said the crew needs to be creative.
"The beast’s tail is definitely a problem. It’s always getting caught on things or stepped on," said company manager Deborah Barrigan. "One time a couple costumes got hooked together. The actors are talented and do lots to cover it up."
Another new aspect to the touring "Beauty and the Beast" show is painted costumes. "Lots of costumes are now painted using an airbrush gun … ," Barrigan said. "Before only solid-colored fabrics were used."
Many costumes are embellished with pieces taken from those used in the original Broadway production.
"The show is all about finding love," Barrigan said. "There’s lots of hearts and sparkle."