A Designer’s Mind

by Lyndi Sue Mecham, Costume Designer and Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

As so many of the design elements for a show need to work together in harmony, designers often collaborate with one another, sharing ideas, thoughts, and inspirations.  In the case of The Servant of Two Masters, one collaboration was between Costume Designer Lyndi Sue Mecham and BYU’s Hair and Make-up Supervisor Janell Turley.  Turley was creating the wigs for a few characters and came to Mecham to discuss how the wig could enhance the design of the costumes.  Here is a look at what inspirations and ideas Mecham shared in order to help Turley create the perfect wig for the character of Clarice. You can find the complete journey to Clarice’s costume (and other characters) in the program study guide.

Clarice: Ingénue in looks, period influence, but with modern edge


These were the main pictures (and descriptive words) I kept from the “character icon” packet for Clarice. The first one is the traditional Clarice from Commedia shape. I liked the loud but soft hairpiece in the second, and I love the roll/curl/”hurricane”/swirl in Paris’ hair. It wouldn’t have to be that big and I definitely don’t want the slick look for everything else, but I love that swoop. Especially if it’s ombre.


These are images Stephanie sent in the beginning. Something that really helped me to understand the characters and where to take them was watching rehearsals and run-through. The dress from the front cover of strictly ballroom definitely played part in Clarice’s dress though, so that’s still there.


These were the ideas that inspired the rest of Clarice. I did a mesh of everything and came up with two different renderings. The design progressed from my favorite (it actually goes left to right) when I found out what she needed to do in rehearsal. I loved the sparkle, but we decided the best mix would be the shape on the right, but that we could invert the layers to underneath instead of over the top. That tied in the “period” feel we wanted but let it still be modern. Making sense?

clarcostThis is the painting, titled “The Happy Accidents of the Swing,” painted sometime in the second half of the 18th century. In the movie “The Slipper and the Rose” this scene is almost replicated as far as the female character goes.

slipperThis film is the reason I have always wanted to be a costume designer. When Director Stephanie Breinholt told me that she wanted a mix of the periods in every character, I knew the inspiration for “period” in Clarice’s dress would come from this movie.

slipper2I love the tiny little, perfectly round spit curls on the side next to the beautiful swoop over the ear. I love the height, and I’m pretty sure there are little sparkly things in it because in the movie, the Fairy Godmother makes the wig out of a mop head and magical bubbles. It’s really cool.

clarmovieI also pulled some inspiration from early movie stars for the dress, though the sleeves are about the only thing that stayed. A different option to curls that lead into the chignon could be fingerwaves. I have no idea how well they hold up, but this is gorgeous, and reminds me of some of the rippled trims on her dress.

So that is a brief look into some of my inspirations. That was fun. Designing IS really fun.


In the Midst of Tech

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Friday night, The Servant of Two Masters entered the newest phase of rehearsal: tech.  Technical Rehearsals (most commonly known as “tech”) is when we leave the classroom we’ve been rehearsing in and move on stage.  One by one, the technical elements of costume, make-up, lights, sound, and props are added, and every night we get a little closer to having the full show on stage.

For this show, the first order of business was spacing.  With the nature of the set, the cast needed time to see how blocking they’ve been practicing worked with the backdrop (with its door and shutters), the fountain, the ropes, and the entrances and exit.

Once the cast felt comfortable with the space, the second element added was props. While the cast had access to “rehearsal props” during the first few weeks (items that resemble or stand in place of the actual props), the transition from rehearsal props to real props can always be a little tricky. Some items don’t work the same way, or are a slightly different size or shape, and so the cast, director, stage manager and prop designer have to work together to make sure that everything is perfect.

Tonight we start to add two more elements: lights and costumes. Since lights and costumes can have a major effect on each other (just imagine what would happen if you had a beautiful red dress put under a dark green light), lights and costumes are being added together to make sure that both designers (as well as the director) are happy with the results.

With each night we are getting one step closer to the final look of the show!

And just to give you an idea, here’s a little sneak peak at one of our publicity photos…

servant pub


People or Projections?

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

“Devised theatre is a personal stretch for me. I didn’t choose my major because I love theatre, necessarily, but I do love the creativity that devising gives to the discipline. Building a play moment by moment is challenging and at times frustrating. The creative process for some people is very individual, but this type of creativity feeds on collaboration. I suppose that is the part I like best is the push towards creative collaboration.” -Chelsey Roberts, costume designer and performance writer

One of the main goals we had for Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief, was to incorporate new media with the traditional in a new way. So obviously costumes can’t just be costumes right?

Chelsey Roberts, our costume designer, decided that a trendy but monochromatic palate would be the way to go for actors who would have to play multiple characters in both New York and Provo. Most of the changes with be accomplished by adding accessories and changing physicality and vocal quality.

Idea for costumes

An idea for what our ensemble might look like (just the girls that is)

Most of our costumes will be pulled (meaning taken from what the costume shop has stored), but there might be a few special pieces created just for our mediated moments.

The cool thing about white jackets or skirts is that they can easily transform into a ready-made projection screen.

Here are some examples of Chelsey’s inspiration…

Projection on people

Projected shawl

projected wedding dress

So if you see a white piece of clothing… chances are it could become something incredible. I’d keep my eye on it. Things aren’t always what they seem.

A Run for the Designers

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

For The Servant of Two Masters, the first two weeks back in school have been focused creating the foundation of the show.  Lines have been memorized, characters have started to develop, the overall blocking (movement of the actors) has been set, and the beginning ideas for all the lazzi moments in the show have begun to sprout.  So much creation has been done, that the next step was to do a Designer Run.

A Designer Run is the first moment that the cast performs the show all the way through for the designers.  While still very much in the beginning stages, it gives the designer’s the opportunity to see the world that is being created and to make sure that the ideas that they are developing in their individual shops are still working.  This past weekend, the set, lighting, costume, sound and prop designers all joined with the cast, the director, the assistant directors, the stage manager and myself to watch the cast put the whole show together for the very first time.

It was a good time.

Here were some of my favorite moments:

Our first intro to the characters

Our first intro to the characters

Our lovers are introduced

Our lovers are introduced

Rivalry? Or alliance?

Rivalry? Or alliance?

The servant girls come out to play

The servant girls come out to play

Chaos starts to ensue

Chaos starts to ensue

Things start to heat up

Things start to heat up

And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what this show is to become!

The Power of Spectacle in BYU’s Phantom

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

As The Phantom of the Opera continues to show strong at BYU I began to reflect a little on the power of the spectacle, due in part to my love for works by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other musicals by Webber, besides The Phantom of the Opera, are also very popular: Jesus Christ, Superstar; Cats; Starlight Express; Love Never Dies (the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; and Evita. As the pictures show, there is a lot of eye candy in each of these shows, whether through costumes, musical numbers, scenery, lighting, or even directorial choices. Wherever a Webber musical arises, there are sure to be “wow” moments that send the audience on a roller coaster of fun.

Starlight Express's rollerskating set

Starlight Express’s rollerskating set


Love Never Die's Coney Island Spectacle

Love Never Die’s Coney Island Spectacle


Cats-the costumes are absolutely incredible

Cats-the costumes are absolutely incredible

Now let’s return to BYU’s production of The Phantom of the Opera and take a closer look at what Tim Threlfall’s directorial decisions are to make this show a spectacle like the one on Broadway. Let’s begin at the beginning. We have combined both the orchestra and sound bytes to help portray the show in a manner that envelopes the audience. This isn’t like Oklahoma, where all the music comes from the microphones and orchestra pit. This show has pre-recorded music, such as frog croaks and Phantom voices. Also, Doug, our student sound designer, has the voices moving across the speakers, so it appears the Phantom is moving as well. This is all to create a more spectacular experience as you view the show.

Also, when the Phantom decides to rain on the Masquerade parade, he enters with a very menacing costume. I was very tempted to add this to my display outside of the DeJong Concert Hall, but I want this costume to be a moment of surprise for those who will attend, and hopefully it was for those who already attended. Deanne DeWitt did an amazing job constructing this costume.

What would this production be without fog and a boat? Well, pretty much nothing according to our standards. So, we have fog and a boat. This is a remote controlled car that navigates among the fog during the iconic Phantom song. Once parked on the side of the stage, it is very easy to take it off stage left. To see an up-close picture of this sequence, go to the HFAC display on the south stairwell.

Our director had some issues to clear up before we could fully present this musical. For instance, how do we make the Phantom disappear during the scenes where he is supposed to drop through a trap door? The answer comes twofold: fog and flying. First, we have used a lot of fog to help eradicate the audience’s view of the Phantom. This also serves as a neat effect that fills the stage with an ominous feeling of obscurity. The flying is a neat addition that helps the Phantom appear as a master magician, as Madame Giry informs us. Many hours of practice have passed so all those who are hung/flown in the musical would do so in a safe manner.

These are only a few ways in which this musical has kept its spectacle at BYU. For those who have already seen this musical at BYU, why don’t you let everyone else know your favorite parts that really stood out to you as a spectacle within the show. This could be costumes, dance routines, lighting, sound, etc. Be careful of spoilers though!

End of Phantom Tech Week

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

The time has come for the actors to rest before opening night. They have gone through an arduous week of tech rehearsals. However, even before the actors began to go live on stage, the production crew gathered together for what is called “paper tech” rehearsal. Paper tech is a rehearsal where the stage manager, lighting designer, stage designer, sound designer, costume designers, and just about every person involved in the technical aspect of the show, gather together and make sure all their notes coincide. Since I wasn’t part of the technical crew I went to see first-hand what goes on in these meetings. While incredibly dry and routine, this is an essential aspect so when everyone arrives in the theater, they are all on the same page. With only a week to rehearse with the technical elements, we needed every minute we could get.

Long nights ensued as the actors, make-up artists, costume designers, stage hands, etc. began to form many entities into a finely tuned instrument. We stopped on many occasions to fix errors and perfect the show. I attended various rehearsals, and I am blown away by all the talent found in this show.

This week we end tech week and begin to open the show. We have prepared for our guests. We have sold out performances. However, rush tickets are still available to students only. Here are a few pictures I snapped during tech week. It’s another sneak-peak into the Phantom of the Opera we have created here at BYU.

Preparing Vocally

Preparing Vocally

Preparing Wigs and Make-up

Preparing Wigs and Make-up

Preparing the Stage and Visual Cues

Preparing the Stage and Visual Cues

Preparing the Lights

Preparing the Lights

Super excited for opening week!

Behind-the-Scenes with the Phantom Costume Designers

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

The other day I visited the basement of the HFAC, known for its labyrinth-like feel and lack of sunlight (there are no windows). I navigated the halls until I arrived at the Costume Studio. I was curious as to what was going on in terms of costume making for Phantom. There are three design teams working on the costumes for our production.

One team is working on the costumes found in the three operas within the musical. The first opera is Hannibal. This is the scene where we return to the opera house and Carlotta is singing. During this practice the new opera owners enter: André and Fermin. The second opera scene is Il Muto. This opera is where the Phantom plays a prank on Carlotta and Joseph Buquet goes sky diving. The third opera within the musical is Don Juan, the Phantom’s own musical for Christine Daaé. Chelsea Roberts, a current BYU undergraduate, is the designer for this project.


A second crew is working on costumes designed by Janet Swenson, a recently retired faculty member, and Angela Robinson, a current BYU student. They have designed the “every day” costumes, or clothing worn by the characters when they aren’t “performing” in one of the three operas within the musical.

The third costume crew is building the quintessential masquerade scene. If you’ve seen the production before, or even the movie, you know the masquerade scene is full of lavish costumes. This team is headed by designer Deanne DeWitt, the Assistant Manager of the Costume Studio, and Desirée Moss, a current BYU undergraduate. These are really neat costumes. I’ll let you have a peak.



Donnette Perkins is in charge of the costume shop. Think of her like Morgan Freeman’s character in Batman. She oversees all aspects of the shop, including hiring talented students and being responsible for all products that end up leaving the costume shop. She is a very integral part of Phantom as the overseer of all three teams. What a job!

We hope you appreciate the work that goes into the costume makers of the production team for Phantom of the Opera. When you come to the show you will always see their work as each actor is on stage. You won’t be disappointed.

Design and Dramaturgy

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

This past week, our Gone Missing production team has broken into groups: Design and Dramaturgy.

The design team deep in discussion.

The designers will focus on how the show will look, how many screens we need, how we will use lighting, costumes, and projections to tell the stories of loss outlined in Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief.

Some of the performance writers (Sarah Porter, Ali Kinkade, and Jenna Hawkins) putting a moment on its feet.

Meanwhile the dramaturgy group will be workshopping the moments we have chosen into a text that the actors can memorize and use. Basically what this means is that the four main writers will each take one moment we have chosen home. They will treat it as it’s own play thinking of traditional plot structure (inciting incident, rising action, climax) and write a draft. The next time we meet, they will bring it to class. The actors will read it and we will all give our comments and ask questions. The next night, the writer will take home a new moment (taking into consideration the comments given in class) and the whole process starts over again. We repeat this until we have a polished script that we can present at the end of February.

Design Insights-Holiday Costume Concept

by Mallory Mckey, Co-Costume Designer

In the early stages of my design work as I was finding images and researching—I was trying to think of some way each character was connected. I was also trying to find my color palette. I’m a visual person and I love seeing color and texture.  I was thinking about gold and silver a lot for some of the characters, and then I realized that was the connecting piece. Gold, silver, and money!  Once I hit on that idea, there was no stopping me.  I immediately started looking up pictures of money and specific bills and coins.  The more I looked, the more I could visualize the characters and who they were.  Everything was clicking into place in my head.

I read the script again with the idea of each person representing a specific type of money.  How they presented themselves, how they saw the world, and how they related with people all made sense.  Now it was my job to show that in the clothes.  From the money, I got my color palettes for people, and from my research started my designs.  It’s not completely obvious, and people might not even see it at all.  But, through my perspective, each piece, accessory, and style was designed with this in mind.

Below you will find images that inspired the design for the Seton household.