Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

2012 Tony Awards: Best Costume Design for a Play

Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winner will be in orange.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN FOR A PLAY

1. PETER AND THE STARCATCHER
Paloma Young

2. ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
Mark Thompson

3.  DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER
William Ivey Long

4. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Paul Tazewell

Paul Tazewell’s costumes for A Streetcar Named Desire are appropriately 1950s in style, but rather dull, both in color and design. His self-described “moth-like” gown for Blanche is meant to be as delicate as the southerner is unstable, but instead of reflecting her transparent vulnerability, it’s simply a messy mix of golden-hued tulle and tacky lamé; the flappy “wings” (capped sleeves) look like something a teenager would stitch together for her prom. The sole nomination for this Streetcar (which underwhelmed critics and audiences alike), Tazewell’s chances here are non-existent.

Two other nominees square off with 1960s designs: The sex farce Don’t Dress for Dinner marks William Ivey Long’s 63rd Broadway costume design and his twelfth Tony Award nomination (he’s won five, including the fabulously designed Grey Gardens), and his more formally inclined designs include smart Parisian suits and cravats for the men and tailored skirt-suits with eye-catching, tasteful floral prints. There’s even a cleverly fun onstage quick-change in which the cook’s black-and-white uniform is transformed into a sexy and sleek gown.

For One Man, Two Guvnors, the ever-busy Mark Thompson (who is also nominated for his set design for One Man and is a producer for Peter) created a London-casual 60s Mad Men-wear with a mod twist: mismatched plaids are paired with wide ties, and bright floral prints accompanied full A-lined skirts. And with lots of shiny suits and colorful cardigans, the delightfully tacky clothes are as loud and silly as the show itself.

But it’s critical and fan favorite Peter and the Starcatcher that will go home with the prize for Paloma Young’s collaged costumes of tattered stock pieces whimsically transformed by simple additions like an embroidered jacket or bowl hat. With a cast playing more than 60 characters, Young managed to create a base nautical design for all that wasn’t lacking in creativity, so while many of the men may be wearing vests, no two vests are the same — with military, double-breasted, buckles and buttons, and stripes. But the clincher is the hilarious drag queen-styled mer-men that Young imagined right out of the scrap heap with buckets for boobs and shiny bits of trash for scales. Fanciful and offbeat, Young’s design is sure to blow away the competition.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2012 by in Award Predictions, Broadway, Costume Design, Theatre, Tony Awards and tagged .

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