OUTLOOK: Behind the scenes of ‘Through the Looking Glass, The Musical’ at VTG
Published 4:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2023
Before a single word is uttered on stage, costumes can speak volumes about the characters in a performance.
Costumes can also denote the time period and setting of a play, and they can help the actor connect with their character.
Beginning Friday, the Vicksburg Theatre Guild will begin offering performances of “Through the Looking Glass, the Musical,” and Clarissa Horner, who serves as the costume director for the production, has been busy designing and sewing costumes that will serve as an added layer to a Lewis Carroll classic.
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Characters in “Through the Looking Glass, the Musical,” will include kings and queens and members of the royal court, which is where Horner said she began her process of designing costumes.
“I started with the royal courts wearing Renaissance clothing,” she said.
In doing so, she chose red and white material to represent each of the two monarchs.
“Through the Looking Glass, the Musical,” is based on Carroll’s sequel to “Alice in Wonderland,” which takes place a few months after Alice went to Wonderland, director of the local production Sarah Goss said.
And with its political undertones, Horner said, she chose to use subliminal messaging through costuming.
The red costumes are reflective of “Bloody Queen Mary” and her court, Horner said, while those dressed in white signify the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
For a scene with a fight between the unicorn and lion characters in the musical, Horner clad the unicorn in a Scottish military-style costume that includes a tartan kilt and dresses the lion in Revolutionary-style garb.
She said costuming for the pair alludes to the battle between Scotland and England.
Horner said in planning out costuming she first scoured VTG’s Parkside Playhouse Theatre for anything she could use.
“I tried to see what kind of material we had at the theater,” she said, and in doing so found old tablecloths and curtains as well as fabric remnants.
“I managed to find quite a bit of red and white material for the red and white courts. So, a lot of what we have is a conglomeration of what we had at the theater. That helped to save on fabric costs,” she said.
And while some of the costuming for the production was purchased — mostly the “wonderland characters,” Horner said, designing and sewing the remainder of the costumes for the musical is the biggest project she has ever taken on at the theater.
Goss said there are 25 cast members in the local production of “Through the Looking Glass,” with River Durst debuting in a lead role as Alice. Other leading roles include Abigail Hughes as the Red Queen; Gavin Standish as the White Knight; Dr. Paul Ballard as the White King; Dr. Paul Bennett as the Red King and Horner as the White Queen.
“We have a lot of new faces in this cast,” Goss said. “I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of them. Many of them have never been in a production before and had no idea what they were in for. The rehearsals, the dancing, the time. They have all done such a good job. There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone who was thinking, ‘I’ll never get this’ go to ‘I got it.’”
In addition to the well-clad and colorful cast, which makes up a variety of ages — the youngest being 10 years old — Goss said the lighting for the musical will be exciting as well as the musical score.
“The lighting is intense. We have a new LED lighting system at the theater, and I have thoroughly enjoyed setting this one up. There will be a flashing light warning for this one,” she said.
Performances of “Through the Looking Glass, the Musical,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, 4, 10 and 11, and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 5 and 12 at the Parkside Playhouse Theatre, 101 Iowa Ave. Tickets are $20, $15 for ages 65 and older and 12-18 and $10 for ages 12 and younger and are available at the box office or online at https://www.showclix.com/events/10243.
“We are blessed in Vicksburg to have a variety of live theater and fine arts entertainment. That’s a rarity in such a small town,” Goss said. “There aren’t many towns where you have the opportunity to catch a live show, sing along with karaoke, go to a dance recital, an art show, a museum or any of the many other things we can do. There is a wide variety for everyone. It’s important that we support our venues, actors, dancers, singers, musicians, historians, etc. People often say that there’s nothing to do here. I promise you, there’s a lot to do here. You just have to go out and find it. And most of all, support it.”