Steampunk goes Mainstream

A couple of months ago I went to see the Kalamazoo Civic Youth Theatre’s version of Alice in Wonderland. The set was so beautiful that I snapped a quick shot of it with my cell phone during intermission.

Not the best  photo, but I hope you can see well enough to check it out. Cogs, pipes, metal staircases and industrial looking platforms = steampunk.

Kalamazoo, though the largest city in Southwest Michigan is still pretty small in comparison with other cities; and is proud to say that they keep a small town atmosphere. So when the city’s main community theatre decides to produce a play using steampunk sets, costumes and props, you’ve just got to figure that the culture has gone main stream.

And let’s face it; Alice in Wonderland is the perfect story to present using this format. A mixture of Victoriana and fantasy makes it work beautifully.

Another view of the stage. The tall pipes represent a tree, which emerges from Alice’s Library. You can see the shelves and books in the foreground.

My favorite set piece/costume. The caterpillar as a cyborg? You can also see the ball part of the hookah, all lit up in a cool greenish glow, as well as the mushroom gills.

A backstage view of the mushroom and how the actor had to strap himself into the attached costume.

Here are more favorite costume and set pieces showing off the steampunk theme.

The Red Queen. Yes, sadly this script muddies things by combining Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I admit that I am a purist and dislike mixing the 2.

The talking flowers. Loved their characters and costumes. The bottoms of the pots were cut out and they shuffled in and out of several scenes in unison, their petals bouncing along. I wish their hair and makeup were more in unison as well.

The White Knight and his mechanical horse. Probably the most boring scene in the book and in the play as well.  Still, the horse was so cool.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Some of the costumes seemed a little drab but look at the Mad Hatter’s table in the background. I love the sharp angle, truly showing off his madness.

I took a closer photo of the table, backstage. It was too dark to come out very well but you can see that the table corners has a clock set into each leg. A very clever and lovely detail.

My biggest regret is not acquiring a photo of the Mock Turtle. The back of his shell is actually a beautifully painted clock. I’ve got to check with the costume designer and see if she got a photo of it for her portfolio.

Most of these photos came from the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre  itself. If you want to see more of what they do, just click on the link.

If you are wondering at my theatre theme for this posting, my mind is on costumes tonight. Friday I was offered a job costuming a local High School production of Bye Bye Birdie. Not as interesting as Alice in Wonderland but I’ve decided to take it on.

It’s been years since I’ve costumed anything and they are already in rehearsal so I’m starting out late – just like the White Rabbit. My time is tight and I’m worried that I may be taking on too much, along with my full-time job and outside activities.

Still, the money has lured me and I want to dip my toes back into the theatre community again so I thought it was an ideal opportunity. If I don’t get a nervous breakdown or fall apart from exhaustion.


About Jill-O

a girl who likes lakes, trees and critters; making an attempt at living the artistic life.
This entry was posted in Kalamazoo, Michigan, steampunk, theatre, theatre crafts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Steampunk goes Mainstream

  1. Great pictures – they make me wih I’d seen the production. Very cool that you’re doing the costumes. I saw Bye Bye Birdie in NYC years ago (Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, Chita Rivera, etc – that’s how old I am) and have happy memories of it.

  2. ContagionKat says:

    Just a costuming comment for the pics posted from Alice, the skirt is really cute from the front, but I think a bustle in the back would’ve been much better. I hope that you post your costuming pics as well. I haven’t looked through yet to see if you have.

    • Jill-O says:

      Thanks for your interest. Costuming is a lot of work for little pay. The job last spring was a quick job with lots of people to costume. It wasn’t as fun as I hoped. I’m not sure if I want to continue in this direction. I do have a lot of photos from my past work, but they are all predigital and in slide format. I’ll have to find somebody to get them on a disc for me before I can put them online.

  3. laura k says:

    Our community theatre is going ahead with this play. We love your work. thank you for sharing! May I ask how you created the caterpillar costume? materials and such? I intend to model ours after yours but ours must move and cannot be strapped down. Thank you so much!

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