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Behind the Scenes: the Eunuchs’ Costumes

The three Proteans in the cast of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, played by Matthew Bauman, Nick Flatto and Blakely Slaybaugh, play a variety of roles, including that of Eunuchs who work in the house of Marcus Lycus. These costumes were created by STC’s Tonja Petersen (Draper), Sara Trebing (First Hand) and Michele Ordway (Stitcher) with additional help from Claire Robinson (Costume Tech Intern).

Forum’s Costume Designer, David C. Woolard, created this rendering for the costume:

Rendering

Costume rendering by David C. Woolard.

The Costume Shop often reuses or repurposes what they can to save money and maximize efficiency. They had two belly pads leftover from the Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky costumes in STC’s 2012 production of The Government Inspector, which they reused for these costumes.

The Government Inspector

Harry A. Winter as Dobchinsky and Hugh Nees as Bobchinsky in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of 'The Government Inspector,' directed by Michael Kahn. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Michele made a third pad to match, using a wrestling singlet with two layers of 2” air conditioning foam to create the belly, topped with quilt batting then baby flannel to add smoothness.  After that, Spandex was machine-stitched over the top. To mimic the look of a bare belly, the Spandex was dyed to match each actor’s skin tone, as identified using a skin tone swatch book.

Skin tone

The Costume Shop used skin tone swatches to determine which shade to dye the bellies of the costumes.

The Eunuch costumes will be in a quick change during the show. To make it as easy as possible for the actors, the Costume Shop built everything but the vest as all one piece with a giant coat zipper on the back for easy access. The leg holes were stiffened with ridgeline, a cheap plastic boning you can purchase at a fabric store, to help the actors easily get their legs in and out of the pants.

Singlet

Michele Ordway shows the zipper on the back of the Eunuch costumes.

Claire sewed the pieces of the costume together and created small pockets in the costume and inserted very strong magnets into them. The magnets will keep the vests in place during the show, but they can be removed before dry cleaning the costumes between performances.

Vest

Claire Robinson sewed magnets into the costume to keep the vest in place.

The vests include prefabricated trim and hardware that echoes the lion’s head motif of the warrior Miles Gloriosus’ costume. As a final step, the team needed to add belly buttons; the locations were marked with safety pins.

Costume

Michele Ordway shows the nearly-complete costume.

See the finished product and the rest of the costumes onstage during the run of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, November 21 through January 5, at Sidney Harman Hall!

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