14 December, 2009

Elphaba's Act 2 Dress

"Let all Oz be agreed:
I'm wicked  through and through..."
Elphaba, No Good Deed

"This (motions to Act 2 Dress) is Susan's idea of basic black."
Nicholas Dromard (Fiyero), Behind the Emerald Curtain tour

The basic story of the dress is that, after Defying Gravity, Elphaba goes sailing off on her broom to become an Ozian Robin Hood. She doesn't actually get new clothes, so she has to patch up the black dress she wears to the Emerald City (which, in it's original state, is probably my personal favourite of Elphaba's clothes). And this is much more clearly seen in the SF Preview pictures (with its maintaining the puffed upper sleeves and such), but over time, it's evolved to have very little in common with the OSD dress.
Old pix:

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New/present incarnation (keeping in mind each of these are made individually, and according to Hilferty, "no two are alike". Hence, they will vary from production to production, and even from actress to understudy)

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Currently, and most prevalently, the basic overview is a full length, close-fitting dress with a high collar, longsleeves, and a ruffly skirt that hugs the hips, and then flares out in a relaxed mermaid shape. (the bloggess said as if she actually knew what she was talking about). it's made of many, many fabrics shoved together. The dress is famously heavy, with a letter reproduced on the Gregory Maguire forums, quoting SJB as saying,
"Yes...wearing the ACT 2 dress is amazing....it weighs about 25-30lbs so it's difficult to negotiate on stage. But it sure helps me get itno [sic] character...

According to the same poster, the 30bs figure has been confirmed by Shoshanna Bean, Julia Murney and Idina, so I think it's safely canonised now.Someone else on the forum says that Glinda's Bubble dress is the one that weighs 98 pounds. *shrug*

Julia from Stuttgart says that they have a "light" version of the Act 2, which only weighs 8kg because it doesn't have as many ruffles and uses lighter materials. Apparently Willemijn has a love-hate relationship with the dress because it's so beautiful, but also dislikes it because she wears it the entire 2nd act (except the finale!) and it really hurts. Additionally, the actress can't sit down for a while or stretch her back because the body is so tight and she's onstage too much of Act 2 to take it off.
In this video, Susan Hilftery says her vision for Elphaba was "as if she came from the centre of the earth; as if you imagine a piece of coal with mica in it." The dress takes one stitcher two weeks to make, and 40 yards of fabric go into the entire dress because of its intense layering. Also, they deliberately leave some edges unfinished, and leave some strings hanging off to give it that "rough and ready" feel.

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The entire corset section is a combination of 12 fabrics all quilted together, so it feels like it's all one fabric. The bodice forms an asymetrical corset. I don't have enough shots of the whole 360 view to count all of the panels (someone wanna do that for me?) but there are an asymetrical three coming to a point over the left side of the dress. You can see some similar looking seams, but the three front ones are the thickest and most prominant.

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The tour people didn't really have anything to say about this dress that I didn't already know, but I did notice something I hadn't seen: there's a pretty beaded flower on the dress.

Evelien sent in some much better pictures here: (thanks so much!)

 The Photo Gallery for this costume is here.


Evelien said...

Thank you for this! It's really usefull. I just think I found one typo: 'indina' in stead of 'idina'.

Al for the beading, there is also beading near the neckline, which also has a floral shape.

Corbyjane said...

Thanks, Evelien! I'll fix the typo. That's interesting about the beading! I'll try and find some pictures of that!

Evelien said...

I have send you an e-mail with two pictures.

Anonymous said...

First off let me say this is a very helpfull website. Do you know if Megan hilty ever played elphaba because in one of the pics you have up it looks like her.

Corbyjane said...

As far as I know, Megan Hilty has never played anyone but Glinda, unless it was in the little concert she and Shoshanna Bean do called "The Meg & Sho Show". Sorry!


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