Friday, August 6, 2010

First Day on the Job!

Well my first rehearsal went great last night! No pictures of the actual rehearsal, but it wasn't really that exciting. It was just a read through for cast and crew so no one was doing anything too interesting. I did get to speak with the director about the look of the show. She wants it big, bold and colorful. She was speaking my language!

So the first step was a little research time. I wanted to start with the Original 1951 Broadway Production of Guys and Dolls. It seemed a very logical place to start. All later versions of the show will have costumes that start off the original design and character portrayals.  The play itself takes place in a 1940-ish New York-ish place. I figure the costume designers of 1951 probably remembered the 1940s fairly well.

You would not believe how hard it was to track down photos of the original 1951 production, but thanks to I did finally manage to track down a few stills of the original cast. These photos (I think) are all from a feature in the June 11, 1951 issue of Life.

Vivian Blaine is so cute! Here she is in the original "Bushel and a Peck" costume.

Here we can see the original "Save-A-Soul Mission" costumes. The general wears a hat and glasses. She looks so cute! I'm also noticing that a lot of the guys are kind of shabby looking, not the very put together "gangster" look that we see in some of the later versions of the show. I like that. These guys are just regular guys, not rich syndicate members. They're con-men and up-to-no-goods, but they're not wealthy by any means. They should be more colorful and less polished.

More of the Bushel and Peck costumes. Nathan (played by Sam Levene) sits at the front. Vivian Blaine rubs his hair affectionately. Loving Nathan's bold pin stripes. We'll have to see what I can come up with for him. Those girls in the back are very 1950s show girl. Hats like that need lots of sequins! 

General Cast here. This is the opening scene. Some very over the top characters here. You can see some of the mission girls in the back there. We're definitely going to need some flamboyant lady's hats for this production.  I'll probably be making most of them myself. 

Robert Alda, as Sky Masterson and Isabel Bigley, as Sarah the mission leader. Isabel looks so nice in that tailered shirt. Aren't you in love with those sleeves? Very vintage. Of course I also love her hair, but that's all up to the makeup department. Sarah certainly is nowhere near as flashy as the other girls in the show, but she still looks great. Wish I knew what color the original Save-A-Soul uniforms were!

Guys in the Sewer craps game. Another shot of the original men's costumes. Love!

After practice I was sent home with a car full of costumes from the theater company's costume collection. Some were vintage pieces, most were costumes from other shoes, and some were hilarious dresses from the 1990s. My guest room is going to be a bit of a mess while I sort through all those things and take stock of what I have to work with. I'll try to upload some pictures of the chaos tonight.


Sarsaparilla said...

Congrats on your new costuming job for Guys & Dolls. You must be so excited! I'm listening to Rockin' the Boat as I'm writing this...

Another great site for you to visit for future research is

Did you know that each Life magazine from 1936 to (forgot which year) is available to look at online? Not just the articles, but the ads too. So I took a peek at the contents of the June 11, 1951 issue, and I didn't see those photos, but I didn't look very hard. 6/11/51 has COLOR photos of several musicals, including two from Guys & Dolls - though I'm not sure if they will help you out much...

Just wanted make sure you were aware if this great online source.

- Susan (

Aimee Marieee said...

I was just today reading an article on Damon Runyon! Good luck with this great gig!!

Debi said...

I'm so excite to see what you come up with! What a fantastic gig!

Alyssa said...

I'm very excited that we'll be being costumiere's at the same time! Good luck with hats, by the way. They are a big, time-consuming pain in the butt.