“I was not mad at you I was not trying to tear you down The words that I could’ve used I was too scared to say out loud If I cannot break your fall I’ll pick you up right off the ground If you felt invisible, I won’t let you feel that now
Inspired by Linkin Park’s song “Invisible”, and my first music piece that isn’t…whatever all the rest were!
Just in terms of Richey being a writer, we’d have been mad to think that he thought he was gonna stop at Generation Terrorists’ point. Cause he obviously couldn’t stop anyway. Not just lyric writing, he just wrote constantly. I’ve got tons of stuff of his, of prose and of poems and stuff.
So, like…… relative to being dead? Screwing up with doors isn’t that bad.
Who doodles little hearts all over the desk with their initials inside them: Obi-Wan did for a while, but has worked on stopping since Padmé asked him to either make his own desk or stop doodling on hers.
As far as making his own desk went? ……yeah, that died after Obi-Wan tried to look up, “how to make a desk” and decided that it sounded messy and complicated and okay, wow, he has so much more respect for Padmé’s desk now that he actually kind of understands the work that she put into making it
Who starts the tickle fights: Obi-Wan.
Who starts the pillow fights: Padmé.
Who falls asleep last, watching the other with a small affectionate smile: They take turns, but it’s usually Anakin, simply by virtue of him having a weirder sleep schedule than either of his spouses
Who mistakes salt for sugar: They all had moments of doing this until Anakin gave up and put really clear labels on every container that could conceivably be used for salt or sugar (and one for salgar, though only he and Ahsoka ever use that one because Obi-Wan and Padmé think salgar is disgusting).
Who lets the microwave play the loud beeping sound at 1am in the morning: Anakin, but it’s usually a sign that he’s upset about something. But it is still really annoying. Especially when it happens right before or in the general vicinity of Padmé having some big deal business at the Senate.
Because Ani? Sweetheart, she appreciates that you’re upset and don’t always know how to talk about it until you’ve worked out some of the frustration through tinkering, or working out, or having a late-night self-pity party with microwave taquitos and a pint of Cherry Garcia?
But she also appreciates what rest she can get and would, in general, appreciate it if you could, like…… please care enough about your spouses to not let the microwave beep on the eve of this important vote she’s been trying to argue for that will, you know, literally affect the fate of several star-systems? kthx.
Who comes up with cheesy pick up lines: Obi-Wan, oh god. They are so cringe-worthy, you’re gonna scream. Or groan and facepalm, which is what his spouses usually do because Obi-Wan is such a loser nerd and they love him.
Who rearranges the bookshelf in alphabetical order: Obi-Wan and Padmé are in an ongoing dispute over whether it should be alphabetical by author (sub-alphabetized by title), or parceled out into subjects and then made alphabetical by author. Anakin has been permanently recused from the debate because his idea for an organizing system attempted to combine Obi-Wan and Padmé’s ideas, utilized some concepts that were somehow inspired by the wiring inside of a speeder he’d fixed a few days earlier, and literally only made sense to him and R2.
Anakin still stands by his terrible idea. He also maintains that it is a very, very good idea and that Obi-Wan and Padmé would learn their way around it through practice if they would just let him do it and try it themselves. This argument is slightly hampered by the fact that Anakin cannot explain how his system works without at least five charts.
One of the original charts involved sand and how his system would minimize the amount of sand involved in the bookshelf. No one is entirely sure why this was important in designing an organization system for the bookshelf because the closest it’s ever been to sand was the sawdust that happened when Padmé built the bookshelves herself, and now that he’s had a nap or ten, even Anakin admits that this chart was probably not necessary.
However, he maintains that this doesn’t change how his idea for how to best organize the bookshelf is the one they should be using. Neither does the fact that he was exceptionally caffeinated at the time and hadn’t slept in a while. Nope.
Who licks the spoon when they’re baking brownies: They take turns, but Obi-Wan probably does it most often.
Who buys candles for dinners even though there’s no special occasion: None of them, really. They usually don’t even bother to have candles for special occasions.
Who draws little tattoos on the other with a pen: Obi-Wan and Padmé take turns drawing them on Anakin. Except for sometimes, when R2 is actually the one drawing on Anakin, and Obi-Wan and Padmé get framed, because R2D2 is a troll.
That said, the humans here have figured out that R2’s tattoo doodles are usually more risqué than Obi-Wan’s or Padmé’s — neither of them, for example, particularly gets the “humor” of Anakin having a cartoon phallus drawn on his face — so R2 gets away with this less. This has yet to make R2 stop doing it, but y’know.
Who comes home with a new souvenir magnet every time they go on vacation: Anakin, oh my god. He has souvenir magnets all over the fridge and various surfaces in his favorite speeder, he has souvenir snow-globes on the bookshelves (and one in Padmé’s home-office), he collects all the tacky souvenir junk you never wanted.
Who convinces the other to fill out those couple surveys in the back of magazines: R2 has tried in vain to convince his humans that these would totally be fun and they should do it, but they keep shooting him down in favor of doing Mad-Libs. R2 has resorted to filling them out with 3PO, which is mostly just irritating because most of 3PO’s answers suck.
Good afternoon, everyone! I hope you all had a nice weekend and enjoyed the mini-reviews. It’s Monday, which means it’s time to take a look at a new show. I’ve switched gears a little bit, and I’m taking a look at a designer who I’ve mentioned on the blog but have yet to give a full review to: William Ivey Long. Mr Long is a wonderfully talented costumer who has won 6 Tony Awards in his career, out of a total of fifteen nominations (and counting). Today, I’m going to take a look at his Tony-winning designs in 2006′s Grey Gardens.
I chose Grey Gardens for my first Long-costumed production not only because I love his designs, but because I think this is a musical that deserves more attention and appreciation than it gets ten years on. I remember enjoying the cast album when it first came out, and a re-listen this weekend reminded me that it has some beautiful songs and wonderful performances from start to finish. Based on the 1977 documentary of the same name, the musical revolves around the complicated psychology of the mother-daughter relationship between Edith “Big Edie” Beale and Edith “Little Edie” Beale, the aunt and cousin of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy respectively.
Unique, I believe, to this production is that the role of Big Edie is played by two different actresses in two different time periods, while the role of Little Edie is taken on by the actress who first plays her mother. For the original Broadway run, the role of Big Edie in Act I was taken on by Christine Ebersole, who won a Tony for her performance in the musical as a whole, while Mary Louise Wilson (who also won a Tony for her role) takes over for Act II; Ms Ebersole plays Little Edie for the duration of Act II. It’s a dramatically interesting production, and Mr Long’s designs help to make it even more worthy of a look.
One of the hallmarks of a William Ivey Long production, much like Catherine Zuber, is that he takes his cue from the original era of the musical and then adds a twist, usually involving bright and lively colors. Let’s take a look at the production, starting with Act I:
Long Island, 1941. The scene is set at a beautiful family gathering as Big Edie (Christine Ebersole, in pink) holds court in her stately New York home, kitted out in high fashion. At her feet, the young Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier listen as she animatedly sings in comic fashion.
I offer the description of the scene because I think it helps to give some context for the costume designs. I’m going to start with the most obvious piece, the one that immediately draws the eye, Ms Ebersole’s. Looking like the stately grande dame she is in Act I, Big Edie is costumed in a beautiful salmon-pink dress with an elegant floral-patterned silk robe or kimono over it. The dress is a light fabric and the color acts as a stark contrast to the grays and blues that predominate in the Beale household that forms the majority of the set. The ensemble is complemented by the addition of a long red beaded necklace that is draped so that it hangs down towards Ms Ebersole’s lap.
In contrast to the theatrical Big Edie, the children at her feet are costumed in much more muted colors. Lee (left) is costumed in a floral white shirt and blue overalls, while Jacqueline (right, played by future Modern Family star Sarah Hyland) is in a more formal blue and white floral dress. The fabric of that dress is a little rougher than that used for Ms Ebersole’s costume, and I think that is an intentional choice on the part of Mr Long. After all, clothing for children has to be a bit more durable!
Take a look at the costumes in a bit more detail here:
You can really see the 1940s styling in Ms Ebersole’s costume in this shot. The salmon-pink dress flows beautifully, with the mid-century pinch at the bosom; that makes the fabric bunch up into a beautiful set of folds that is almost reminiscent of a bow without the addition of another fabric. I’ll take a look at the robe itself in more detail in a moment, but look at the subtle color of the garment; Mr Long has managed to find a bolt of pink silk that is so light that it’s almost creamy in color and texture, and the way it catches the light is absolutely perfect for giving off the air of a rich sophisticate.
The children’s costumes continue to offer a counterpoint to their aunt’s costumes, simpler in design and scope and still muted; I like the way that Jacqueline’s costume mirrors the wallpaper of the parlor in a way, albeit in a lighter shade. It helps to tie together the vision of Mr Long as costumer with the vision of the scene/set designer (Allen Moyer for this production). I harp on it a lot, but it is so vital that the set designer and costume designer have a good relationship and work together to bring a production to life; the sign of a good Broadway production is when the costumes and sets fit together seamlessly.
I said I wanted to look at the robe in a bit more detail, and while the lighting is not perfect, I did manage to find a still that allows us to take a closer look at this beautiful garment:
In the interwar era (1919-1941, so Grey Gardens’ Act I is just under the wire), Asian-inspired designs were popular, especially when mixed with Western color schemes, and that is what we have on display here. The robe resembles a kimono with wide, sweeping sleeves that hang down and add an extra layer to the robe, and it is constructed out of thin, elegant silk in a pale, pale pink color. There are a number of floral emblems throughout, in shades of pink, gold, and brown, with the occasional touch of blue for a contrasting color.
Silk is a fabric that is always a joy to work with, even if it cannot stand up to a lot of abuse. Its innate sheen allows it to catch and reflect light beautifully, and it adds a richness that other fabrics simply do not possess. It makes sense for Mr Long to have used silk here; the Beales were fantastically wealthy members of the New York society set, and Big Edie would have insisted on having the finest available. The floral emblems that decorate the robe are exquisite in their styling and execution, and really make this garment pop, regardless of the lighting or Ms Ebersole’s position onstage.
The costumes in Grey Gardens’ first act continue to be sumptuous as the Act reaches its climax; take a look at this set of dresses from near the finale:
Once again, we see that Ms Ebersole in her role as Big Edie is given an outfit that contains significant elements of salmon pink, this time complemented by grays and whites. Her daughter, Little Edie (played by Erin Davie), is outfitted in a snow-white, spaghetti-strap wedding gown; the bodice is a satiny fabric, while the bell and body of the dress consist of an internal satin layer with layer upon layer of tulle. The tulle itself is decorated with a series of lacy floral elements which add to the luxury of the dress–but it is still, overall, a bit simple of a design. I think I actually like that, because it allows a contrast with the more colorfully and richly costumed character of Big Edie.
Big Edie’s dress for the end of Act I is classic William Ivey Long in that it is richly patterned and fits the actress absolutely perfectly. Custom tailoring is not easy to do, and it’s pulled off expertly here:
The bosom of the dress is once again pinched to provide layers and folds, and the dress itself is off the shoulder; if that looks familiar to you, it may be because Christine Ebersole wore a similar style of dress to the 2017 Tony Awards ceremony. There is a thick, predominantly pink cummerbund element below the bust, which then gives way to the beautiful fabric used for the body of the dress itself. I said earlier that it is a floral design, and I stand by that–but rather than being open buds, the splashes of pinks, oranges, and lavenders in this dress put one in mind of flower petals. I think that’s a neat idea for a formal dress, and it’s one that I associate with Mr Long; his twist, as it were, on style of the era of a period piece is to take the expected (florals) and make them slightly more modern (the use of petals rather than buds or blooms). Very clever technique, and it really draws the eye to the dress.
But if Act I is all about classic 1940s style and beautiful costumery, Act II is about the fall from grace experienced by the Beales by 1973, when the second half of the musical is set. By then, the women had become codependent on each other, and the musical explores their fraught modern relationship. The estate, grand and beautiful in the 1940s, has fallen into disrepair, and the costumes that Mr Long designed reflect that to some degree. While they take cues from the 1970s, there’s some intentional shabbiness that reflects the collapse in circumstances the main characters have experienced. Take a look at this costume for Little Edie, now played by Ms Ebersole, alongside one of Mr Long’s sketches:
Gone are the grand cuts and the sweeping fabrics, away have gone the detail elements, and what we are left with is a fairly simple red dress and headscarf combination. Without disrespecting Mr Long’s work, there is a shabbiness to the simplicity here, though it is intended. Little Edie really isn’t much worried with her fashion choices; she’s dressing in what’s comfortable and, perhaps more importantly, what’s available. Part of the story of Grey Gardens is that the Edies barely ever left their home, becoming famous recluses on Long Island. Indeed, until the documentary, most neighbors assumed the estate was abandoned and simply a home for feral cats.
That shabbiness and reduction in glamor and luxury is even more stark when we consider what’s happened to Big Edie, now being played by Mary Louise Wilson. Recall how beautiful her costuming was in Act I when played by Ms Ebersole; it was bright and lively, and it felt like it positively oozed luxury and beauty. Now in her dotage, her costuming is far more simple and even a little bit threadbare:
Instead of a flowing ballgown, we have what appears to be a bathrobe or housecoat in a much louder, much more mass-produced floral pattern. The silk robe of Act I is long gone and what she has now feels like it could have been store-bought rather than tailored directly to her. Mr Long is clever in his choice here, because I think the floral design–which once again includes petals!–is designed to be a direct counterpoint to the beautiful gown in which the Big Edie character ends the first Act. I love the contrast, and the simpler costuming forces the audience to really think about what has happened to these two women.
The idea of counterpoints is strong in this Act, with many of the costumes bringing to mind earlier, more heavily designed numbers. Remember the luxurious silk robe and the beautiful dress from the beginning of the musical; there was even some accessorizing in the form of the long, elegant beaded necklace. But those are faded memories now, and what Big Edie is left with is this simple, almost homespun number:
The hat is a limp straw, more for accent than anything else, and the pink shawl–tying directly to the pink dress of the first Act–is loose and relatively inefficient. It’s not going to do much to add warmth on a blustery Long Island afternoon, and it adds an air of almost sadness to the overall look. Add in the blanket in leopard print–hardly the choice of a woman of sophistication in this era–and the overall effect is to drive home just how little these women have been left with.
One last piece of costuming deserves a bit of commentary, and it’s one of Little Edie’s numbers:
Sunning herself, Ms Ebersole gazes into a mirror in a tiger-print bathing suit and a black swimming skullcap. It’s a mournful costume, and she’s holding a mirror and gazing upon herself. The swimsuit is hardly couture (and yes, couture swimsuits do exist) while the skull cap is plain and dull, even with the addition of the brown ribboning on the sides. What Mr Long has done with this costume is drive home that these women have lost almost everything through some circumstance or another: their sense of fashion, their rich fabrics, their grand lifestyle, and in a sense, everyone in their lives except each other.
I enjoy the costumes that Mr Long produced for this musical, because they offer such stark contrasts to one another. Part of that is the split in time period between one Act and the next, but much of it is because he masterfully uses color and pattern to tell the story. What was rich and beautiful in Act I has become cheap and mass-produced in Act II, and that’s not necessarily an easy thing to pull off. There are subtle nods to the time period in each Act–the pinched bosom in Act I, and the scarf/skullcaps in Act II–but the designs are on the whole original. They are definitely worthy of a Tony not only for their designs, but for the way in which they complement and mirror one another.
Before I close out the review, I want to just offer a few brief words about the musical itself. This is one that is very much deserving of a listen and not just a look at the costumes. The music by War Paint’s Scott Frankel, the lyrics by Michael Korie, and the book by Doug Wright all combine to tell a fascinating story not only of two peripheral historical figures (Kennedy relations by marriage), but of a complex and intertwined, even codependent, mother/daughter relationship. Both Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson put in Tony-winning performances that are pretty apparent from even a cursory listen. They bring passion and drive to the production that is not always evident on Broadway or in a recording.
Overall, I think this is a musical that deserves to be appreciated more than it has been in recent years. It’s a hidden gem despite its success at the Tonys, and I really encourage you all to check it out when you have a chance. I don’t think you will regret it!
That wraps up my first foray into the costumes of William Ivey Long, but it is far from the last time I will look at his designs! I hope that you enjoyed today’s review, and as always, my dear readers, please feel free to send feedback by Ask, Submission, or by Message.