Q: How large is the production? In comparison to other ballets in our repertory?
There are about 300 costumes, but many of them are duplicates. [Dutch National Ballet] had more people on stage than we will. They also built a lot of extra costumes, some of which haven’t been worn yet. It is a big, complicated show. I think it a lot of ways it’s equal in size to Sleeping Beauty, but not in complexity. We also know Sleeping Beauty, and we don’t know this one, so it seems huge.
Some things are fairly simple, like the Seguidillas. They have a blouse and a skirt, and accessories. So, they have many pieces, and they take a piece off for the first act, and add something for the 3rd act. We’ll have really tight casting, so there won’t be a lot of changes.
Q: How did we get the costumes?
They were shipped. The first shipment came in the summer along with many of the props. They came by ship from Amsterdam and we got over 80 boxes. They’re different sizes, and some of them are huge. The contract was that we had the Dutch National Ballet wardrobe supervisor come over for our first fittings. When we opened the boxes, he was here to help explain what things were, show us how they work, and help with the first fittings. We did a week of fittings with him and we tried to do one of everything. Then we put everything away. Now we’re going through and having fitting with dancers and learning the costumes. I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own, so Pauline Smith (First Hand) has been assigned early on to learn this show.
Whenever we have a rental, we take basic measurements of the costumes so you have a place to start—that skirt will be too short for that dancer or that waist won’t fit. So we can go to rack and have an idea of where to start with the dancers. That’s been working so far.
Q: How many staff members will work on this production?
In the shop, everyone will work on it—12 or 13 of us. Then, we’re hiring a specialty wig and makeup crew of 9 people for each show, including someone for the children’s hair. We don’t know how many dressers we’re going to need yet; we haven’t counted. Nutcracker uses 13 dressers and 2-3 maintenance on every show. So, it’s going to be around 25 people in the theater for each show of Don Q. It’s a lot, it’s a big show. Sleeping Beauty is close to this- huge dressing crew, huge maintenance crew, and a wig crew of 6. So, it’s kind of like a SB. It’s a monster—but bigger!
Q: What happens after the show?
We have on day to clean everything that’s washable and put it back in the boxes and send it back. They will do the dry cleaning and charge us for it, which is standard for costume rentals. We also have to restore any major alterations we’ve done. We’ll feel like we’re done with the show on Sunday, but we’ll have a full day’s work to get it back in the boxes to ship on Tuesday.
We got the shipment in July and opened the boxes in August. We haven’t gotten the wigs yet and we have a few other extra costumes coming soon. We did a lot in the summer and then put it away. Pauline’s been continuing to work on it, and we’ve had to order shoes ahead of time.
When they first stared rehearsals, Pat Stovall (Men’s Wardrobe) and I made rehearsal capes. They didn’t want us to use the real capes. We unpacked a real cape, Pat made a pattern off it, and we didn’t have any to make them so I did!
Q: Anything else?
We’re pretty excited. I think it’s going to be fun and beautiful. And maybe it won’t be as hard as we think. I mean, some people look at what we do with our Nutcracker. It’s a hard show. It’s a complicated show. And I know it is, but at the same time I know it really well so it doesn’t seem that bad. So that’s what I expect with this, we’ll really get it and then we’ll have to send it back.
Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet
February 3-12, 2012
TICKETS: 206.441.2424 or https://www.pnb.org/
Featured photo: PNB dancer Carla Korbes in Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quixote, photo © Angela Sterling.