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Lily Frazer, Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack in Dreamgirls (Photo: Brinkhoff & Mogenburg)

Lily Frazer, Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack in Dreamgirls (Photo: Brinkhoff & Mogenburg)

What the West End wears

Published 20 February 2017

In the past year or so, some truly fabulous costumes have hit the boards of the West End and the Great White Way. Whether in new shows or revivals, the togs below represent some of the most anticipated and memorable of the past season on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dreamgirls

To find out more about these dazzling costumes, look no further than this exclusive video with Gregg Barnes, the show’s Costume Designer!

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Disney’s Aladdin

How to transform the Genie from “Aladdin”, originally an animated blue shapeshifter, into a living, breathing––and a bit mystical––human? Greg Barnes, the musical’s Tony-winning costume designer, answered that challenge with an enviable pair of blue M.C. Hammer-style trousers, a belt that wouldn’t look out of place on the Heavyweight Champion of the World, and the meaningful and iconic cuffs that keep the Genie a slave to his lamp. Trevor Dion Nicholas brings the look to life at the Prince Edward Theatre with some over-the-top eyebrows and his unforgettable performance!

The Genie from Disney's Aladdin (Photo: Deen van Meer)

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School Of Rock

Another famous film look brought to life on the West End and on Broadway, all in the same year! In London, David Fynn rocks out nightly with the kids in the “School of Rock” (that’s the band’s name and the show’s name, conveniently), as Dewey Finn, the role made famous in film by Jack Black. Costume and scenic designer Anna Louizos brought just the right amount of dignity to Dewey, a sweat-drenched grown man impersonating his roommate as a substitute music teacher who eventually dons a modified school uniform to perform with his students––which is to say, not too much dignity. Fynn looks rumpled and wild, whether in his tank top or his Ramones-inspired finale threads.

David Fynn (Dewey Finn) & the kids from School Of Rock (Photo by Tristram Kenton)

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Groundhog Day

There was nothing especially remarkable on the surface about Andy Karl’s costume as Phil Connors in “Groundhog Day”, except for the fact that (spoiler alert?) the audience got to watch him put it on in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on the morning of Groundhog Day, and on the morning of Groundhog Day, and on the morning of Groundhog Day, and, well, you get it. Even Phil’s otherwise ordinary undershirt and boxers see the spotlight, taking centre stage in a multiplying montage of their own. Connors’ wintery getup, including snow boots and scarf, was designed by three-time Olivier winner Rob Howell, whose designs will hit the Broadway stage this spring when Groundhog Day opens there.

Andy Karl (Phil Connors) in Groundhog Day (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

Was there a more hotly anticipated reveal in 2016 than West End favourite Jamie Parker as The Boy Who Lived, all grown up in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?” Fans were quick to embrace Parker’s handsome, suit-wearing Harry, especially in his wizard-appropriate, well-cut outerwear––a combination of a traditional men’s overcoat and a robe. Costume designer Katrina Lindsay is responsible for Harry’s more mature look.

Jamie Parker in Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Sunset Boulevard

“It’s not a comeback! It’s a return.” And what a return, for Glenn Close to step into the role––and the gowns––of Norma Desmond and make her West End debut in “Sunset Boulevard”, 22 years after first playing Norma on Broadway. Designer Anthony Powell also made his return to the Boulevard, designing the original 1994 costumes for Broadway and those worn by Close in last year’s English National Opera revival. Norma’s dramatic turbans and sweeping, beaded robes sparkled like new, but her most iconic look, the dramatic black suit and hat with a white fur stole, worn when she sings “As If We Never Said Goodbye”, shined brightest of all (and not just because of the oversized, crystal-studded buttons).

Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard

Amadeus

As the star of the triumphant return of Peter Schaffer’s “Amadeus” to its birthplace at the National Theatre, Lucian Msamati’s Salieri earned rave reviews. The production was so well-received that it will return to the National in 2018, and one of the things we’ll look forward to seeing again is: This. Brocade. Suit. Brocade gets a bad rap for making its wearer look not unlike a settee or footstool, but Msamati rocked this shimmering, textured, and downright brassy design by designer Chloe Lamford. Next to the title character’s unselfconscious, ragged coolness, the gold brocade suit helped put Salieri’s purposeful and pained quest for fame and genius front and centre.

Amadeus at the National Theatre

American Psycho

It took three years for Rupert Goold’s production of “American Psycho” to make it from the Almeida Theatre to Broadway, and Katrina Lindsay’s costume designs came with it. The show, which closed early last year, had all the sharp suits and slick dresses that come with Patrick Bateman’s territory, but the most unforgettable look was the first and simplest: star Benjamin Walker, center stage, in his pants!

Matt Smith and Jonathan Bailey in American Psycho, the musical playing at the Almeida theatre (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Guest post by Abby Dan

See Theatreland’s costumes in all their glory on stage, and book your show tickets today!

 

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