March 28, 2014
EXPO Profile: Andrea Phillips, Costume Designer for The Secret Garden
: Video by choreographer Dannul Dailey. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Andrea Phillips (PP '14), costume designer for "The Secret Garden" in the Cornish Costume Shop. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: "The Secret Garden" is part of EXPO 14.
: Cornish Costume Shop hard at work on "The Secret Garden". Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Performance Production students at work (l-r) Jordan Frost (PP ’16), Leisa Brent (PP ’17), Levi Plumb (PP ’17), Blake Huddleston (PP ’17), Patrick Pfeifer (PP ’16); back to camera, Emma Kaufman (PP ’17), and Hannah Larson (PP ’16). Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Andrea listens to Costume Shop supervisor and faculty member Carl Bronsdon as Patrick Pfeifer (PP ’16) listens. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Maggie Allen-Young (PP ’15) discusses her work with "Secret Garden" costume designer Andrea Phillips. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: A selection of Andrea Phillips' costume renderings for "Secret Garden". Photo by Mark Bocek.
Cornish has a lot riding on the success of EXPO and The Secret Garden; the costumes are in the able hands of their designer, Cornish senior Andrea Phillips
Not just anywhere does a student get the opportunity to design the costumes for a major production; at Cornish, she does. When The Secret Garden opens at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on April 9, audiences will be enjoying the beautiful, rich costuming designed by Performance Production senior Andrea Phillips. Based on the classic children’s book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the musical stage adaptation by Lucy Simon (music) and Marsha Norman (book and lyrics) will be a large and lush production.
At a little over one week from opening, the Cornish Costume Shop is buzzing with activity, and Andrea Phillips is at the center of it. “We’re a couple of days away from our first tech,” says Phillips, “so we’re in a mad scramble to finish everything. We still have a lot to do.”
Designing and building the costumes for The Secret Garden is no small responsibility for a young designer like Andrea Phillips to undertake. First, it is a large-cast musical, with 22 characters, many of them requiring more than one costume. All told, Andrea was required to provide over 60 costumes. On top of that, the action of the play is set in the early 1900s, meaning that all these are period costumes. Further, this means that, unlike a piece set in modern times, a designer can’t count on just going to a shop and pulling things off the rack. Any of the pieces that can’t be found in stock or borrowed or bought must be built laboriously by hand and tailored to fit the actors and actresses.
Obviously, it is much preferable not to build costumes. “We have to work from a budget,” says Phillips, as she works. “It’s about what we can find in stock. I’m making this dress from scratch, but there are a few floating around that were made a number of years ago. … It wouldn’t be practical to build the entire show.”
Especially for the ladies in a period piece, costumes are complicated. “Almost everybody has corsets, petticoats, skirts, a blouse, a coat, a scarf,” says Phillips. “They get it all.”
Phillips, who will graduate from Cornish this May, is a native of Astoria, Oregon. For those not familiar with the Northwest, Astoria is a small, picturesque town at the mouth of the Columbia River. She graduated from Astoria High School, where she participated in theater production. Upon graduation, Phillips entered Cornish in the Performance Production Department.
Andrea looked at a number schools but chose Cornish in the end. “It was far enough away and it felt like a big city. Seattle has been really great, theater-wise, ‘cause there’s just so much around. It’s really great to be up here, and getting to see shows as much as I can.” Leading up to her design gig for The Secret Garden, Phillips designed two Cornish Dance Theater pieces.
After she picks up her BFA at Commencement, Andrea has no immediate plans to leave Seattle. “I want to stay around in Seattle for right now and see where I can go, see who I can connect with. I’ve interned before with the Seattle Opera in the makeup department and at Seattle Children’s Theater in their prop department — so, I like to do a lot, not just costumes. I love scenic painting, and props is really fun, and hair and makeup is fun, too.”
The Secret Garden is one of the many events of EXPO 14, which will encompass not only theater productions, but also dance and music performances. At the center of EXPO 14 is the annual BFA exhibition, where Cornish’s graduating art and design students display their work. The production by the Cornish Theater and Performance Production departments will appear under the direction of Timothy McCuen Pigee with choreography by Dannul Dailey, dance coaching by Tinka Gutrick Dailey, and music direction by Joshua Zimmerman.
The Secret Garden
Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Directed by Timothy McCuen Piggee
Choreographed by Dannul Dailey
Dance Coaching by Tinka Gutrick-Dailey
Music direction by Joshua Zimmerman
April 9-12, 8:00 p.m.; April 12, 2:00 p.m. matinee.
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109
RSVPs are being taken for a “Backstage Benefit” surrounding the April 11 performance of The Secret Garden. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Cornish Annual Fund.
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