Show Rehearsal. How do I describe rehearsal so you get the full impact. Rehearsal is every emotion you have ever felt in your life at one time. It’s a lot of laughing and a little bit of crying. It’s the hardest you will ever work and the longest days. You may do the show a hundred times or more once it’s set, but the rehearsal period will only happen once, it’s when the magic happens and it’s when you create bonds. Rehearsal is the first time everything and everybody comes together. You make new friends and reconnect with old friends from past tours. You also find out what works and what doesn’t.
It doesn't matter how much time and preparation you do in advance and how fabulous things look on paper, the reality sets in when you start running choreography, music, and costumes on the stage, and that doesn’t even include the quick changes which comes in much later. Have you ever wondered how the performers change costumes so quickly?
Our costume department consist of 4 people myself and 3 wonderful very professional and focused costumers. On tour Laura takes care of Pink, Krystle takes care of the female performers and Sophia takes care of the male performers. But in the preparation phase no one is locked into one specific job you do whatever you can to help, it was all hands on deck. And in this case everybody was helping with research and resourcing options and morale support. You may be surprised to learn that Pink herself was instrumental in the research and development of what became the costumes in the show and she does have final approval of every look. You might imagine that she would have her hands full learning an entire show and being a full-time mom? I really don’t know where she found the time, I have a hard time just taking care of myself. I have auto-debit on most of my bills and I still struggle! Pink has a wonderful sense of style, I have told her that if the singing thing doesn’t work out she would be an amazing Stylist - I think she laughed, I don’t remember.
I learned on “Funhouse” to create a story so in recovery mode I took each section creating a little story, as an example “Walk of Shame" In this case the answer was in the title. Anyone that has ever done the walk of shame can identify (not that I would know from any kind of personal experience myself-this is what I hear) I put the girls in their “dates” clothing from the “evening" before. Mens tux’s shirts, jackets and bow ties that they may have “borrowed” for the walk home at that awkward time in the morning when everyone else is going to work. I think it looks perfect and gets the subtle message across. For the other looks I prayed to the wardrobe gods and lit candles to Saint Dior, it worked. Every designer that we contacted was so helpful Norma Kamali, Bordelle and a line that Pink discovered herself called Demobazza are just a few that helped us out. Demobazza is located in Sophia Bulgaria - I’ll just say that’s a long way from Phoenix. Customs, a language barrier and currency exchange aside the day the shipment arrived at the rehearsal space it was like a party. Their line had such a new fresh original look and was so perfect for the dancers in the “Can’t take Me Home" Medley section that I can’t imagine them ever wearing anything else. A few fittings and we were on the right track. What do you think?
Costume design is always a challenge. Once you find the “perfect" costume that’s only the beginning and because of the aerial and gymnastics work involved in this show there are new elements we have to be conscious of. With choreography you need freedom of movement but with aerial work there is also flexibility and safety concerns involved. With Pink specifically we also have to be conscious of audio equipment built into her costume that she needs to monitor the show. Where do you hide things on a bikini? And all of that comes before you even get to….how do you get into it in 60 seconds, out of it, and then something a lot of people never consider is how do you clean it?
For me the real turning point was a day we were running “U and Ur Hand” (I saw the girls as a 60’s ish biker gang). I had found these simple tee shirts with lips printed on the front for the girls with jackets. I don’t know why that shirt defined it but I could see that things were really taking shape and I knew we were going to be Ok. But there was one last change that was still a problem. Pinks transition from “Wicked Game” into “Just Give Me A Reason” we had tried a couple of options but the transition didn’t feel smooth. A long costume change (long as in 60 seconds) was disrupting the flow. Pink came up with her own solution for the “Just Give Me A Reason” dress that would solve that. I sketched it on paper, bought the material and pinned the fabric to a dress form we travel with. By this point we were in Los Angeles for the Staples Center shows. My original intention was to have Pink approve the idea on the dress form and have “someone” make it up. Well she really liked the look and it was important to her to have the dress for the performance that night….in 2 hours. So my friend Grace Lee (who was helping us with the prep) and I jumped on it and we finished the dress just in time for the show - no fitting. Pink was right, it looked great and the transition was seamless and we still use that same dress in the show today.
Securing duplicates and back up pieces is a new obstacle that has developed over the last few years. Do you guys have a problem buying anything more than once? My favorite phrase is “its a limited edition”. Right, so am I! But that’s not helping me right now. I need more!
I have never asked Pink if she has a favorite costume but my favorite costume of hers is the one she starts “Trouble” in. It’s an eclectic combination of all her elements and reminds me of what Janice Joplin was like. Pink’s personal thigh high John Galliano for Dior boots (forget it-you can’t get them anymore) fishnets, a leotard (gymnast) and a riding coat that we added Swarovski elements to. When the light hits them they look like they are electric. It wasn't really planned, it just developed and maybe that’s why it’s so great. When she sings “Are We All We Are” it’s the ultimate rock experience with her band and Pink’s vocalist Jenny and Stacy who I have known for years and love more than Banana Pudding!
For the dancers my favorite costume is the Norma Kamali fringe and stripe pieces that they wear in “Slut like You/Blow Me”. When I saw those pieces on line I knew they were perfect for something I just wasn't sure what. So after they arrived I left them on a rack in the hall near wardrobe so that someone would “discover” them. As it turned out, I was right from the first hunch. Go with your instincts. They are perfect for that section. The color looks great, the fringe is fun and has movement that works perfectly with the choreography without looking cheap, as in vulgar. Nothing makes a statement like a little bit of Class! I decided to put the guys in simple jeans and fitted white muscle tee shirts, they have great bodies and that’s all they needed, it complements the girls and looks clean.
I am really proud of the look of this show. I really don’t think it could be any better than it is right now. Everything co-ordinates and relates to what’s happening on the stage it feels unified and looks finished. I learned a lot from this experience. It’s important to not just be aware of the individual costumes but of what’s happening with the set and video content as well, so everything works together. I am really grateful to everyone in my department for their focus and to Karla Welch, Pink’s stylist for her advice and contribution. I hope YOU guys enjoy it.
And if I can leave you with one message…I have been doing wardrobe for a long time but just recently have gotten the opportunity to do some design. I found myself hesitating a few times on this project because I was afraid someone would laugh or think my idea was wrong. I wish I could tell you that never happens but it does. I have worked on jobs where things didn’t work out, it’s part of growing. But if you are the kind of person that wants to be more - go for it! Don’t let that opportunity get by you when it presents itself especially if it’s delivered right to you.
We have been on the road since February and our show is winding down now. We have been all over the world. In the next entry I’ll explain what it's like to be on the road for almost a year….and life on a tour bus - with pictures!….Please stand by.