Cabaret Costumes Designer Feature: Megan Shaffer and Kelsey Durick

Q: What is your process like for designing costumes/makeup?
A: A lot of the show deals with living in fantasy versus facing reality, and that theme drove a lot of the choices we made. Some of the characters live in the real; they got more tame, period appropriate, and realistic costumes. Some of the characters thrive on living in fantasy — their costumes are much more eclectic, with pieces of lingerie, dancewear, men’s formal, pretty much everything we could get our hands on. This show was a lot of improvisational design, where we looked at what we already had or could buy for cheap and made it work rather than trying to fit a particularly specific design for each character.

For makeup, we took historical designs of stage beauty makeup and exaggerated them. We made them uglier, we made them cooler, and we made them look as real and fake at the same time as we possibly could.

In conclusion, we hand-made nipple tassels for this show and spend over an hour each night gluing down people’s eyebrows. We don’t believe in subtlety here.

Q: Did the in-concert aspect of the show inhibit your creativity and if so, how?
A: It didn’t really change much for us. Many of the songs rely heavily on the cabaret performers looking just glamourous and grody enough to sell them, so we put just as much work into crafting the Looks as we would have if this were a full production.

Q: Is there anything that you’re especially excited for the audience to see?
A: There’s a cabaret number in act 2 that was particularly wild to costume.

Q: Favorite item in the costume room?

A: Ebeneezer and Bonnibel, the two stuffed animals we stole from the lost and found. They were our rocks throughout the show process. Megan is also particularly a fan of the nice professional tailor’s iron. Kelsey likes the tube of E6000 and the wall of scrap fabric.

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