Trees come alive in the land of Oz

500 glue sticks and counting

When Vanessa Schoen’s daughter Morgan auditioned for Wizard of Oz last fall, little did Schoen realize what kind of role she would play.

When Vanessa Schoen’s daughter Morgan auditioned for Wizard of Oz last fall, little did Schoen realize what kind of role she would play in one of Portal Players’ most ambitious musical performances.

Five hundred hot glue sticks, countless sheets of craft foam and 88 costumes later, Schoen has been able to breathe again.

Schoen and Stephanie Fortin were co-costume designers for Wizard of Oz. The pair worked off directors Elliot Drew and Denis Levasseur’s vision in creating prototypes for the fanciful Oz costumes.

“It was off Elliot’s design…he expressed his vision of Seuss, Willy Wonka,” Schoen said.

Schoen does not have formal theatre costume training. “It’s 20 years of making elaborate Halloween costumes for my three kids,” she said.

Most of the costumes for Oz were created in her dining room. “We basically pushed my dining room table out of the way. We had my sewing machine and two glue guns set up—and music. There had to be music.”

Schoen’s friend Tania Leger and even Morgan got into the assembly line once Schoen and Fortin got the go-ahead for many of the costumes.

Caitlin Johannessen, who plays Dorothy, created her own costumes, and Carrera Schroeder (part of the makeup team) made the Tinman and Lion costumes. “They took on some major role costume making,” Schoen said.

Now that the pace has slowed and Schoen has had the chance to watch the play, she said she would do costuming for a production again.

“Being creative and going OK, here’s the picture in my mind, how do I make it and how do you keep it on their head when they’re dancing?”

The process was no less exciting for Fortin, who has assisted with costuming and dressing in other Portal Players productions.

Fortin, who is schooled in fashion design and merchandising from the Vancouver Art Institute, was the seamstress and dresser for Fawlty Towers, worked on costumes for Reefer Madness and was a dresser for The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls.

“I learned a lot of new things and I put everything I knew from my sewing into costumes for this one.”

Fortin created several costumes from scratch, including the scarecrow’s costume, and assisted with the Kansas and Oz dresses for Dorothy. The sleepy red poppies and snow fairies are also her handiwork.

“I love (theatre costuming),” she said. “It’s so much fun for me. I like that every day you’re working on something new.”

Fortin commuted from Nanaimo for her costuming duties; when she wasn’t in Shoen’s dining room she would take her sewing machine and material to her sister Jenny’s house. “I would transfer everything into her living room,” she said.

Fortin will be sitting in the audience for the finale, so she can see the costumes in play.

“I’ve done a few runway shows in Vancouver but we had to be backstage for those. This is exciting for me.”

There are still tickets available to Wizard of Oz, which runs Feb. 28, March 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15 (and a Sunday matinee March 9). Tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre box office, Rollin Art Centre and www.AtTheCapitol.org.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Port Alberni council looking at nearly 4% tax increase for 2019

Policing, bridge rehabilitation and impending cruise ship visits all jostling for funding

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Death at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death has not been released

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

Most Read