Who makes super-sparkly outfits that can be taken off in five seconds?
PUBLISHED: 16:02 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:02 28 November 2018
The dame's outfits are amazing, but wait until you see the genie's. There's colour, sparkle, glitter, a fair amount of magic - and that's just the costumes for this year's Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime. John Bultitude meets the woman behind the wow in Aladdin.
It’s not the just the look and the wow factor, it’s the need to be able to climb out of one outfit and into another in less than ten seconds.
But easily on and off-able outfits are all part of a day’s work for costume supervisor Kirsteen Wythe. As the curtain goes up on this year’s Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime, it will mark the end of months of hard work for her and her team.
She is responsible for designing around 100 different costumes for Aladdin and loves being part of the magical festive production.
Whether it is the songs, the stories or the sets, the Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime always aims to deliver a fantastic experience for audiences.
One key part of the show is the stunning costumes. Although curtain up is on December 12 for this year’s festive production Aladdin, the work starts much earlier than that.
In fact, the first ideas for each year’s pantomime are first discussed in depth during the festive period the previous year.
From the initial concepts and ideas, Kirsteen Wythe has to ensure around 100 costumes are ready to be seen on first night.
It is a challenge but one that she loves. Kirsteen explained: “As well as designing all the costumes, I also work with a team of makers to create them, buy all the fabrics and manage the budget.
“The finished look is collaboration between me and the director Richard Gauntlett, with input from the executive producer Jane Walsh as well. Richard will have an idea of what he wants and then it is up to me to take that and make it work. Richard and Jane give me quite a bit of freedom to create what I want although it is important that it works on stage.”
Kirsteen starts off by doing lots of research on the show and any themes that are likely to be in the script, and then it is time to go fabric shopping. “The fabric tends to inspire me. I do some drawings but also work by working with different fabrics and seeing how they look on the mannequins. I am really lucky that my team can interpret what I am looking for.”
One key part is ensuring the look of the costumes works and there are always key scenes where that wow factor is particularly important. “The finale is something that you always spend a lot of time and money on, and the fabrics for that always have to be really good,” she said.
Another key part of the show is the flamboyant dame dresses worn by the panto’s long-serving writer and director Richard Gauntlett. “They do take a lot longer and there is a lot of magic in those. I also have to take into account that Richard has to change very quickly. He sometimes only has five or ten seconds get out of one costume and into another so when we make his costumes, I have to take that into account,” she said.
For Aladdin, Kirsteen has had the opportunity to flex her creative muscles and she has particularly enjoyed designing the look for one of them. “The genie costumes which Kiera-Nicole Brennan wears have been my favourite. There is so much sparkle and movement in them,” she said.
Once the show opens and then runs through to January 13, the work does not stop for the wardrobe team as there is still lots to do. Kirsteen said: “Backstage we have dressers who help the performers get in and out of costume quickly. Each day we have someone on maintenance in case something goes wrong with a garment or we have cast changes.
“We also have a really important team who wash all the costumes, and then iron and press them before each show.”
Kirsteen says she loves being part of the pantomime although it is just one part of her business. “I do a wide variety of work. I work for cruise ships, holiday camps, circuses and I do a lot of projects for individual performers as well.”
But it is the pantomime that is one of her favourite projects and she admits to feeling proud as she sees the work of her team take centre-stage, and is promising Aladdin will be a feast for the eyes. She said: “There will be a lot of colour, sparkle, glitter and influences from around the world. It will look spectacular.”
So get ready for a festive feast for the eyes courtesy of Kirsteen and her top team of clothing creators this Christmas.
Aladdin, Norwich Theatre Royal. Wednesday, December 12 - Sunday, January 13. Tickets £10-£24.50. Under-threes free. Discounts for over-60s, under-18s, and groups. Signed performance on Sunday, January 6 at 1pm. Audio-described performance on Saturday, January 5 at 2.30pm. Captioned performance on Sunday, January 6 at 5pm.
Relaxed performance especially suited to those with autism and their family and friends on Friday, January 4 at 5.30pm. Tickets for this performance can be booked in person at our box office or by phone on 01603 630000.
To book, log on to www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.