Sunday, October 28, 2012

Costumer and Designer margaretrose

margaretrose design for Carole Cook's Dolly
margaretrose started out as an actress. That’s how she got started in costuming. Margaret was still in college and studying acting when she was hired as an apprentice for the state theater of Florida. When you are an apprentice, you did everything.
She took tickets, she worked the box office, she did PR for them. 
margaretrose's Dolly design for Carole Cook
margaretrose was also put to work in the costume shop. It was a fun place to be.
She liked the people there. She would do stuff there and create extracurricular costumes they needed here and there.
The next year they invited her back, not as an apprentice/actress, but as an assistant costumer.
The head of the costume department saw that margaretrose had a talent and started working with her. 

The California Institute for the Arts was just starting around this time.
margaretrose was invited to go to Cal Arts. She said she didn’t want to pay someone to someday tell her that maybe someday she’ll get a job.
She told them that if they thought she was that good, they should give her a scholarship, and they did.
 She went to California and got her Masters at the California Institute for the Arts. She taught there for two years and just kept doing costumes.    
In keeping with the theme of most of my blogs, margaretrose was in New York when Hello, Dolly first hit. She was a young theater student that never got to see Carol Channing in her iconic role.
 It was around the time that Ginger Rogers had just taken over the role.
margaretrose was not a big fan of Carol Channing’s, so she never went to see her years later, even did wigs for her. 

She NEVER saw any of the Broadway Dollys.
margaretrose has only been designing for the past thirty years and has not been in the business that long in the scheme of things.She has also done Vegas for fifteen of those thirty years. She hasn’t done a Broadway production, which she would love to do. When she first went to California, there was not a lot of theater.
margaretrose got involved with Hello, Dolly years later because of Carole Cook. Shet had been designing Carole’s costumes for years when Carole was asked to return to the role of Dolly Levi, this time in Birmingham, Alabama through David Galligan Productions.
  She asked margaretrose to design her costumes. Director Stephen DeGhelder tells me that all other costumes were rentals. 

Fannie Flagg also produced a production in the LA area that Carole starred in.
She insisted on having her own costumes and they allowed margaretrose to design the costumes for her which were used in both productions.
The costumes were margaretrose’s own designs. Carole knew what Carole’s requirements were.
Carole would tell margaretrose exactly what she needed and margaretrose delivered.
The only thing they really stuck with the red dress.
Unfortunately, a lot of pictures were not taken of that production so we don’t have pictures in full make-up and costumes. It’s a period piece, number one. It’s musical comedy, number two. Number three, margaretrose was working with a specific person who KNEW what she desired. 
Coat designed for Carole Cook
margaretrose put all those elements together and made it happen. margaretrose admits that she is not familiar with Freddy Wittop’s original costume designs for Dolly.  
Everything was built and fitted in LA and shipped. margaretrose never saw the production.

margaretrose was happy with those costumes and would not do anything differently today…unless she had triple the budget. Both Carole and she were very happy with the end results. The most important aspect for margaretrose when she is designing a costume is that the actor/performer can work to the best of their ability.
Then she adds to that. That is what is important. Working with Carole was and continues to be a joyful experience. 
 margaretrose does all of Carole’s clothes, her real clothes and her costumes.
Every year, Carole does at least two major events and margaretrose always comes up with something new and exciting and bigger and BIGGER.
 margaretrose gets to do over the top designs for her which is a lot of fun. Carole is totally involved. She KNOWS herself.
She knows her body. She is a very professional lady. She is involved in all aspects.
  margaretrose does come in from time to time with her own ideas. Although she was very nervous about it,
Another Carole Cook design
Carole gave margaretrose free reign to design something completely different this past year. She ended up being thrilled about it which is always good. They have now been working together for twenty plus years.
Getting to know Carole is the greatest aspect of this collaboration. She is one of the most talented professional people that margaretrose has worked with.
margaretrose’s experience is with most is that the more talented they are, the more professional they are.
There are many “fly by night” people that are not very nice. With Carole, she is ALWAYS trying to be better; she is always expanding on her talent.
 You give her one sentence to say, she multiplies it into three that takes it over the time. She is always giving, sharing, a true professional in every sense of the word.
Right now, we are discussing a very good friend of margaretrose’s after all this time.  
   The ONLY Dolly Levi that margaretrose has seen is Barbra Streisand. She really didn’t care for it. She felt that it was more Streisand than Dolly. It was a little too slick. There is a lot more to the story. It is a little meatier than what we were served, especially when you think about The Matchmaker.
 The last big production that margaretrose designed for was the Crystal Cathedral in 2006. It was a big huge production. It was called The Glory of Creation.
The business has changed so much since margaretrose first got into it. 
 What inspires margaretrose and what thrills her is creating something new. That is a reason why margaretrose loves costume design more than regular clothing, which she also designs. 
You have so many requirements with everyday stuff but you can go over the top with costumes.
 That is one of the reasons why Broadway and Vegas are the place to do the work. Who wants to keep putting people in jeans and T-shirts? That is not exciting. Period pieces are great. Musical comedy is great.
Vegas is now swamped by Cirque do Soleil. Hopefully, it will come back again…soon!
Cirque do Soleil is a giant change as far as Las Vegas is concerned. They not only have their own costume designers, they have their own costume shops, they have their own fabrics made, they have their own make up made, hair; it is all self contained. 
Another Margaret Rose design
They train their own actors. As far as monies are concerned, it is a bottomless pit.
In the old days, everyone in all of those departments went to Vegas and got paid a weekly salary. That doesn’t happen anymore. Now, if you go to Vegas and you desire to entertain in a room, you pay the hotel a rental AND a percentage of what you earn. You have to have deep pockets in order to sustain something, especially a big show. The people who are doing that right now are Cirque du Soleil which is why they have eight shows running in Vegas.
Everything is four walled now. If you walk into The Venetian, a four wall production is all you get. There is not a seat, a light, nothing there unless the “producers” bring them in. You have to start from scratch. 

They are bringing in tab versions of Broadway shows. Middle sized producers, which are the ones that Margaret has worked for over the past twenty years, used to get a pay check. They would invest their money and after six weeks, they would start making money. They can’t do this without deep pockets. The unfortunate thing is that this paradigm has seeped into almost every area of the business.
The percentages show there is more four walling than entertainers, who now mostly self produce, getting paid for their talent. Those days of paying your dues and systematically moving up the success ladder are fading away. margaretrose sees designers now coming out of school who don’t have a clue what to do. They don’t even know what to do with a needle!         
The advice that she would give for people desiring to get into this profession is to be totally versed on where they want to create.
She gets kids/students who want to go into film. Most of them haven’t seen that many movies. 
Monte Carlo Hotel, Las Vegas
They don’t understand that there is a huge realm that they need to know about. They have this little pocket idea that they can be a stylist and they can go to a store and get clothes, that’s what they think this profession as a designer is. You have to know how to sew and you have to know how to fit and you have to know a little bit more about history. There are fewer schools now teaching that. Cal Arts is supposedly getting better at that. The kids that margaretrose is now seeing don’t feel that it is that important.
margaretrose wants people to know she is still here. Perhaps she hasn’t done something that is so over the top or memorable that she is a household name. She would like to be known as someone who is respected in her field.
She has always delivered what she has promised.  
 Thank you margaretrose for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a CELEBRATION of Hello, Dolly! I am more of an enthusiast than an expert!
If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

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Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Richard Skipper,                            

This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!

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