2010-03-25 / Arts & Entertainment News

Creating costumes for ‘A Doll’s House’ is no child’s play

BY JAMIE CARMICHAEL
Special to Florida Weekly

This sketch became a costume for Nora in “A Doll’s House.” See the real thing on page C26. This sketch became a costume for Nora in “A Doll’s House.” See the real thing on page C26. Most New Yorkers come to Florida decked out in shorts, tropical prints and sandals. But on a recent sunny Saturday — one of few in weeks — the professional actors in the cast of Gulfshore Playhouse’s “A Doll’s House” shed their resort wear and donned Victorian finery — including cinched corsets, high collars and heavy bustles —for their first costume fitting.

The production of Henrik Ibsen’s rich classic opens Friday, March 26, and plays through April 11 at The Norris Center.

Set in a small Norwegian town in 1879, the period piece calls for quite a different style of dress. The Gulfshore Playhouse cast will wear costumes specifically conceptualized and crafted for this production.

“We have had the opportunity to create the look of this show from scratch,” says Kristen Coury, the company’s producing artistic director. “Often with shows set in a different era you have to settle for what’s available for rental or purchase through costume companies.”

Actress Beth Hylton is fitted for her costume by designer Cheryl McCarron. COURTESY PHOTO Actress Beth Hylton is fitted for her costume by designer Cheryl McCarron. COURTESY PHOTO The artisan charged with developing the look for Gulfshore Playhouse’s “A Doll’s House” is Cheryl McCarron, an accomplished costume designer of more than 100 theatrical and dance productions and manager of the costume shop for Hofstra University in New York.

After extensive research, Ms. McCarron carefully sketched each design for presentation and approval, then mocked up the outfits in muslin, in order to custom fit the individual actors. After making patterns for each piece, she began the nearly 100 hours of labor it took to handcraft the garments and see to every detail.

“I love shows where the period details are so important,” she says. “I love doing the research and recreating the look for the stage.”

All the hard work and craftsmanship came to life when the actors stepped into their costumes for the initial fittings.

Beth Hylton, who plays Nora, mused, “…

it’s exciting to find the living, beating heart

of the women who lived inside these high ................

collars and corsets.” Naples audiences will ........

recall Ms. Hylton from her performance

in Gulfshore Playhouse’s production of Yazmina Reza’s “Life x 3.”

In “A Doll’s House,” Nora is a happy housewife — devoted to her husband, playful with her children, fun and frivolous with those around her. She doesn’t have a worry in the world. Or does she?

When her husband falls ill, Nora is forced to take matters into her own hands and find the money necessary to take the journey that could save his life. As the story unfolds, we learn what kind of politics are involved for a woman in a man’s world, and the price Nora must pay for the man she loves.

“A Doll’s House” is a play for the ages. Known as “the door slam heard around the world,” it features one of the most famous climaxes in all of 19th-century drama.

Torvald, Nora’s stringent husband, is played by Larry Bull, who most recently appeared in Tom Stoppard’s trilogy “The Coast of Utopia” at Broadway’s Lincoln Center Theatre. Steve Brady, Steven Cole Hughes, Brandy Zarle and Carole Fenstermacher complete the cast of “A Doll’s House. Robert Wolin is the set designer, and Ms. Coury directs. 

.. in the know

>> What: “A Doll’s House” by Gulfshore Playhouse >> When: March 26-April 11 >> Where: The Norris Center >> Tickets: $30 >> Info: (866) 811-4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse. org.

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