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Posts Tagged ‘Linda K. Morris’

Linda K. Morris as Sylvia and Alban Dennis as Greg. Photo by Chris Bennion.

As Circle Mirror Transformation moves into its last week of performances in the Leo K. Theatre, another show has pawed its way into the Seattle Rep Costume Shop and onto the Bagley Wright stage—fleas and all.

With costume designs by Melanie Burgess, Sylvia is a story of husband and wife…and a stray dog, written by A.R. Gurney. I’ll let you in on a little secret though—the only dogs in the theater will be on November 13 for a very special Dogs Night Out performance of Sylvia—Sylvia, the stray, is played by the incomparable Linda K. Morris. I know! I was as surprised as you are right now. But fret not, Ms. Morris is highly trained and house broken. (If you don’t believe me, check out Morris in our “How to act like a dog” video!)

When reading this play for the first time at the beginning of my internship in September, I was just as charmed by the script as Burgess, a self-professed dog lover. After reading the script, two specific characters particularly fascinated me: Sylvia and Phyllis. Both of these roles require full transformations and lots of creativity from the designer, which Burgess was well prepared for after several decades of work at the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

Darragh Kennan as Phyllis. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Phyllis, played by Seattle actor Darragh Kennan, is an Upper East Side female socialite that Gurney wrote to be played by a male actor. This isn’t unprecedented, even Shakespeare wasn’t the first to use this comedic trick. Burgess looked to create a realistically feminine silhouette on the more slightly built Kennan. With the help of Naomi Weber, draper/tailor at Seattle Rep, and her fabulously talented first hand Laura Me, a one-piece garment complete with hips and a full bust—C cup to be exact—was constructed. The costume may be too realistic though, considering Kennan’s question during the fitting, “Ladies, are my hips too big?” Self-conscious already.

While there are undergarments to help the masculine figure of Darragh transform into a woman, I’ve never heard of doggy undergarments. But after drooling over the renderings that seemed to pop from the page, my fears were quelled. Sylvia has four different looks during the production: stray, groomed, relaxed, and a little black dress number. They all have hints of “dogginess,” but are meant for a feminine physique.

Melanie Burgess (designer) and Joanne Witzkowski (draper) discuss a costume piece for the play. Photo by Corey Davis.

To tackle this issue, Burgess drew upon her past successes with animal characters and left the “mascot costumes” out of the mix. She wanted to suggest the look of a dog, and used the “boho-grunge” style of clothing—with its relaxed fit and messiness—as a resource more than research of man’s best friend. You know, sometimes I confuse the Olsen twins with stray dogs when I’m reading People magazine, so that makes sense…

But Sylvia does make it off the streets during the course of the show, trotting her way to the groomers and into some other ingenious costumes…but for those you’ll have to make your way down to the Bagley Wright Theatre and see for yourself. Hope to see you all at the Rep soon!

Corey Davis is Seattle Rep’s Costume Shop Intern.

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