Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November's Performance

Annabeth was cast in a ballet and modern dance performance last spring; the performance itself was just last weekend.

Part one was a fairly short (20-30 minutes) rendition of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, Waves of Mercy, which was modern dance.  Annabeth's character was named Jael, although, much to her regret, she didn't pound a tent spike into anyone's head (she DID tell the other dancers in her group that she was in charge of pounding the tent spikes in when they set up their tent, because, after all, she was Jael). (Digression for an observation:  When joking around about Jael and tent spikes, it's a crapshoot as to whether a Protestant will have any idea what you're talking about, regardless of how much they talk about studying the Bible.  On the other hand, Catholic moms always know.)

They started out in Egypt (which had a really nice pyramid gobo which you can see if you enlarge the picture)

and then fled through the desert with their tents; the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire went before them.  This is the pillar of fire:

They reached the edge of the Red Sea (which had some really cool wave action going, by the way)

which miraculously parted for them to pass through.

Then Pharaoh's army started to come through the water, but was drowned.  And Miriam took out her timbrel and led all the women in a dance.

My contribution was making the sashes for the Egyptian soldiers, and helping bind the edging of Red Sea so it didn't unravel.

After intermission, the main event, which was Pinocchio.

Annabeth was Figaro, the cat, who you can see in the background above.  She based her facial expressions and general body language on the Disney cartoon.  

I helped make her costume.  The director supplied a black body suit, and I added fur.

The ears are on metal barrettes -- the director didn't want a headband.  The tail is on 1/2 inch elastic that belts around her waist and fastens with a small parachute clip.

The toughest part was figuring out how to put the fur around the ankles, but still allow her to get in and out.  We experimented with different methods, and ended up sewing one end of the strip to the inside leg seam, and then putting velcro on the other end.  Part of the issue is that she has quick changes to become a bad guy -- Gideon, shown in the middle here:

Gideon had baggy short trousers, and big coat, tambourines on a scarf around his neck, and tap shoes.  Gideon is silent in the Disney cartoon, and the director wanted to go with the opposite effect by making him the loudest character in the ballet.  Annabeth played him like Harpo Marx, although she was apparently unaware of it at the time.

The ballet followed the Disney story arc, with Stromboli, 

a visit to Pleasure Island, going under sea to find Monstro the whale,

and even a Wishing Star, and the Blue Fairy.

Thalia ran the light board during Waves of Mercy, and worked backstage during Pinocchio.

The director/choreographer does an AMAZING job of fitting the choreography to her dancers' abilities.  Overall, it was a great experience for the dancers, and a fun show to watch.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

October's Performance

The other day I realized we're doing a performance per month for three months in a row.  That's really a bad idea, in case you wondered.  Especially if you're trying to do college applications at the same time.

Anyway, October was The Legend of Sleeping Beauty.  Thalia was Malicia, who is equivalent to Disney's Maleficent.  Annabeth was Theda the Turtle, part of the cohort of Forest Friends (because, you know, princesses living in woods always have forest friends who can speak human language).

The director had purchased a Maleficent costume, but it was made out of thin fabric and cut fairly skimpy. (The hat was also purchased, and is totally awesome.) I ended up making a new version of the costume using some black crepe suiting from JoAnn Fabrics.  It's essentially just a giant poncho:

That center stripe hides a long zipper.  The stripe fastens over the zipper with velcro.  You can see in this photo that there's a seam across the shoulders -- that helps provide some structural integrity to keep it from stretching out so much.  The purple is some cheap not-really-stretchy knit.

I sewed purple fabric to the inside of the outer edges.  Then I sewed up the "underarm" area by making a long vertical line of stitching starting several inches from the top, but leaving the purple exposed.

Then I chalked on the flame-y side pattern, offsetting the front and back to maximize the amount of purple showing.  I serged the cut edges with purple and black thread so it didn't become a mass of ravels by the end of all the shows.

Then the hot pin insets -- I just made giant slashes in the bottom fronts, and inserts hot pink knit.
I hemmed the outside of the front (the part past the inset towards the purple "sleeves")  shorter than the middle of the robe since the fabric hung lower when she lowered her arms. On the back I just slanted the hem towards the edges.  There's so much fabric involved that no one really notices WHAT you do to the hem, as long as you make the outside edges shorter.

The collar is pleated to fit onto the neckline.  I just made that freestyle based on a mental image of what collar pieces usually look like, and included a bunch of stiffening.  I used the heaviest Pellon I could find, cutting it into vertical strips.

The divine Theda the Turtle, ruler of the universe, is wearing a hoody from Ottobre 1/2011, #34 Sporty Goodies. I left off the pocket.  Ottobre has hoodies in every single kids' issue, so it's a great choice if you're looking for a hooded pattern.  I liked the invisible zippers on this one.

 It's made from some dark green interlock.  The leggings are also an Ottobre pattern -- I can't find the issue right now, but it's the one with all the long underwear, tshirts, and other practical things.  Annabeth loved these items, and started wearing them around as comfy clothes as soon as I finished sewing them.  (I've made another pair of the leggings for her in another color, and have requests for more.)  The turtle tummy is fleece which was quilted and then drawn on with oil pastels.  It velcros to the straps that are holding her shell on.  The shell is fiberglass, and was made by the dad of another performer.  It has an old backpack glued into it to provide the straps, with the green interlock sewn over some of the straps to help hide them.  Here's a shot that shows the actual shell:

Their makeup is mostly Ben Nye Lumiere powder mixed with Liquiset ... this was a HUGE deal to figure out since Annabeth reacts to most makeup.  We're happy to report that Liquiset plus powder does  not cause any problems, although the Ben Nye creams turn her skin red and itchy.  Annabeth's turtle makeup changed practically every performance and every rehearsal, mostly because they were messing around trying to decide what looked good -- they mostly went with a snake/reptile style that wasn't turtle-ish, but still looked "other", since the mostly-green-literal-turtle (seen above backstage during a rehearsal) didn't look that great from the audience.

A couple of more random pics of the goings-on.  It was a very colorful, fun show, in spite of the rather twee script.  Annabeth was an awesome turtle -- she played it with a southern drawl (think Pogo Possum, although her character was more Miz Beaver in personality than it was Churchy LaFemme).  And Thalia was an imposing Malicia/Malifecent, as you can see:

She was cast in the role based on her ability during the audition to do such a loud witch cackle that small children in the auditorium were covering their ears.  It helped that she had been the Wicked Witch of the West a couple of years ago.  Really, though, if you want someone to imperiously command people around, she's a great choice.

I've tried to select photos that don't show much of the other kids, but Malicia's minion is going to be famous some day, so I think we're okay with this one to give another closeup of makeup and costume:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

The concept:  Since the weather forecast calls for rain, find a slicker and be Kathy Selden.

The live action version:

The pumpkins:

The candy:

Thalia and friends dressed up and distributed candy to those coming to our house.  I only managed to get blurry photos of them.