It’s just turned autumn and it’s a dazzling day in Brisbane. The sun is shining and the gleaming glass headquarters of Harvest Rain Theatre Company are awash with colour and buzzing with activity.
There’s a marathon costume fitting session in progress in preparation for their first show of the season, the iconic Broadway musical Guys & Dolls which opens on 20 March.
With over one hundred and fifty costume pieces in the show, the wardrobe team of two will be kept on their toes right up until the final curtain.
Tireless designer Josh McIntosh oversees the fitting festivities, whilst Jo Fraher (head-of-wardrobe) calmly wields safety pins with ninja precision and obliging cast members don costumes and toy with their characters while they were lovingly nipped and tucked. It’s quite a treat to see actors step into their incomplete outfits and flirt with ‘the new man’ in the mirror, hinting at but not giving away what’s in store.
I caught up with Harvest Rain’s wardrobe supervisor Sally Hardy, resplendent in a 1950’s style, tulle-skirted frock, her foot in a moon-boot having fractured it during the Company’s last production. “It’ll be a very interesting run if it [the moon-boot] is still on!” she quips, imagining a club-footed campaign from back-stage left to back-stage right as she manages costume changes during the show. “Quick changes scare me,” she continues, “there are so many things that can go wrong but you have a finite time. If you know the orchestra is going to be playing and you’ve got fifty seconds and the zip breaks or something happens, you can’t stop the show.”
Like everyone who contributes to a successful stage show, Sally continues to hone her craft and, while the cast do tech runs, she does time trials,.“I’ll often sit there and practice getting safety pins done up fast”. Discussing costuming with Hardy is like talking to an Olympic athlete as she fusses over the statistics of stitches per minute and imitates the booming engine of an industrial sewing machine. Her challenge? “I want to be able to rip a zip out and get a new one in in under ten minutes”.
Apart from McIntosh’s colourful costume creations, Harvest Rain’s Guys and Dolls will have something extra-special in the way of original vintage Salvation Army bonnets, loaned to the company by Bryce and Sue Davies. These acquisitions bring with them a little extra background; Sally noticed how stiff the bonnets were and found out that they were intentionally made thick to protect the officers in the field: “So when Sarah Brown stands up making her speech against the evils of alcohol, someone would probably hurl a bottle at her and her bonnet would protect her.”
Starring TV heart throb Ian Stenlake (Stingers, Sea Patrol) with Wayne Scott Kermond (Singin’ in the Rain, Candyman) Liz Buchanan (Hairspray) and Angela Harding (Oklahoma, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Australian TV icon Daryl Somers(Hey, Hey! It’s Saturday) as Nicely Nicely Johnson, Guys & Dolls is set to delight Brisbane’s musical fans.
As I walked out of Harvest Rain and back into the sunshine, I spied Daryl Somers tap-dancing up a storm in another rehearsal room and I must admit to being slightly bitten at by that glitzy showbiz bug.
Guys & Dolls: Concert Hall QPAC, 20-23 March 2014
Tickets are now available online at www.qpac.com.au and for more information about Harvest Rain or Guys and Dolls visit www.harvestrain.com.au and for more rehearsal images visit the Harvest Rain Facebook Page