BLOOD BROTHERS BLOG #6: Wardrobe Supervisor Jenny Herdman Lando
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

BLOOD BROTHERS BLOG #6: Wardrobe Supervisor Jenny Herdman Lando


No one is more surprised than I am to have been asked, repeatedly, to be the wardrobe supervisor for APAC. (Well, maybe my Mom who is a professional seamstress and knows that I cannot use a sewing machine.)  I have, however, in my varied roles in theatre over the past few decades learned some tips and tricks for keeping actors from having wardrobe malfunctions.

1. You really only need 3 colors of thread for quick stage fixes: black, white and whatever the costume designer’s favorite color is.  In Blood Brothers we have quite a few pinky-red items. You will also need a snips.  This shiny blue one was gifted to my by Caitlin Cisek (see APAC BB Blog #3)  who saw me eyeing hers.  (See photo)


2. Learn to put on buttons, stabilize pockets and whipstitch. During a musical with a ton of movement and big songs actors will often take deeper breaths than usual and pop a button or extend a muscle in a direction a vintage dress sleeve does not wish to go. This is also when gaff tape is your friend. You can easily mend a fragile fabric from the inside with tape temporarily so Act II can go on. Later you grab fusible interface and an iron and seal the tear. Watching Rowan Michael Meyer move around in his various scenes as Mickey is the reason I keep needle and thread close at hand during each performance.

3. Washerwoman is my end of week responsibility. Always read the labels, especially when the outfits are vintage. This weekend my bathroom was full of hand-washed air-drying shirts and blouses that were not interested in seeing the inside of a laundromat. A new challenge from the Blood Brothers Act I costumes is to keep some of them looking dirty. The kids’ characters play and romp and Mrs. Johnstone cannot quite keep up with the laundry

4. Learn the settings on a iron. Cool may still not be cool enough for a non-cotton blouse collar that turns to parchment -like material when the iron is just a touch too warm for its liking. Fortunately this problem is not visible from the audience. I hope.

5. Try not to notice all the dangling threads and loose buttons on the clothing of your fellow subway commuters. During show months I often reach to remove the errant thread only to be glared at by riders.

Working so closely with the costumes for Blood Brothers, which really help the audience define a character at quick glance, reminds me of my favorite word. Palimpsest.  Monks used to scrape away pigments and ink from the parchment to reuse it.  Often some of the original text was still visible as new text was laid down.  This happens as the character arcs in Blood Brothers progress. The costumes are additional layers of skin for the characters. They peel certain items off at various times, or add on to help set the stage. Even the addition of a head scarf or a blue hoodie changes the moment.

Costumes for a period piece like this work best when they are hardly noticed. However a ton of work has gone into making them so visibly invisible.

Thank you all for coming to see Blood Brothers.



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