Dress Parade

Rosemary Pardee supervising the Washington Revels costume parade.
Rosemary Pardee supervising the Washington Revels costume parade. Photo: Helen Fields

It’s a time to wait, to memorize lyrics, to wait some more, to do homework, to keep waiting, and to discover the occasional threaded needle stuck in your clothes. It’s dress parade, and it’s part of the reason why we all look so great on stage.

The costume team has been working for months, but this Sunday was the first time the costume designer, artistic director, and a bunch of other people got to see the entire cast in costume.

I showed up at the Revels office for my 5 p.m. appointment – a little early, in some vague (and incorrect) hope that this would mean I would get out early. In the costume work and storage area on the lower level, a helpful volunteer found my hanger on a rack. I’d had a fitting earlier in the week, so I already knew I had a super pretty costume (yay!) and that it’s the right size. It was my first time seeing the headpiece, so I made a guess at how it went on and sat down in the conference room upstairs.

The previous group was still being worked on, so those of us who were scheduled at 5 sat with our music notebooks open on the table, singing together and working on memorization.¬†After about an hour of that, it was finally time to work. And by “work” I mean “stand still while other people work.”

The first thing I learned was that I’d guessed wrong about how my headgear worked – it was on backwards. Designers suggested changes to costumes. Pieces of fabric were grabbed from the overflowing boxes and held up to heads or waistlines. A teenager in my group kept appearing in different dresses. A few different necklaces were put on me and taken off again.

Here I am with my stage husband (not a real husband) and Lois, the inimitable wardrobe mistress. She was trying out options for a wide sash.

Dress parade can be a little boring for the chorus, but it’s downright grueling for the production team – it’s a good idea to bring them snacks. Lois likes chocolate and lemon bars.

At the end of the day, I had new headgear and lots of shiny rings. I’m happy to report that Bobby kept his giant medallion. I’m also happy to report that we were the last group, so I got to eat one of the leftover lemon bars. (After I changed back into my clothes, of course. No eating in costume!)

Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!

Hello Revels World!

Helen Fields in the 2005 Northlands Christmas Revels
Helen Fields in the 2005 Northlands Christmas Revels

Hi! I’m Helen Fields and I’m the brand-new Washington Revels blogger. Yay! I’m so excited! I’m a member of the Christmas Revels chorus.

This is my seventh time in the Christmas show, which means I more or less know how it works now. For example, I can tell the new people that they should use pencil for the notes they’re taking about where to stand on stage, because it’s definitely going to change.

This year I’ll be blogging about the process of getting from slightly-confused chorus member (we have to memorize lyrics in what languages?) to confident, costumed, finely-coiffed member of our on-stage community. I’ll report on costume fittings, rehearsals, and whatever else crosses my mind between now and December. In this blogging venture, you’ll also see occasional posts by our artistic director, Roberta Gasbarre, and our music director, Betsy Miller.

The adults auditioned for the chorus back in May and had our first rehearsal June 1st. We met each other and sang a bit, and the costume folks took our measurements so they could start their work over the summer. Since the beginning of September, we’ve rehearsed every Wednesday night and the occasional weekend day, too. Opening night – actually an afternoon, Saturday, December 3rd – is in a little over five weeks! Yikes!

Want more information on the show or to buy tickets? Click here!