Lavish show’s costume creation
‘‘I'm a full-time mum with three girls. I have a bit of time on my hands when they're at school.’’
One Karori woman undertook an ambitious project in the name of theatre to make six historicallyaccurate 17th century gowns from scratch.
Costume maker Sarah Tucker spent over 120 hours and used more than 70 metres of fabric on the dresses, for the Wellington Repertory Theatre’s upcoming production of Nell Gwynn.
She is one of four volunteers who dedicated their time to making extravagant period costumes for the play.
‘‘I’m a full-time mum with three girls. I have a bit of time on my hands when they’re at school.’’
She spent between 20 and 30 hours on each dress, in a laborious process that involved a lot of hand-sewing, including beads and lace.
The designs for the dresses were made by James Kelly, who previously designed costumes for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
The team started off taking measurements from all the actresses, before Kelly drafted the patterns.
‘‘He has an amazing store of fabrics and bits and pieces for decoration,’’ Tucker says.
After that they had to cut all of the fabric, before starting on the bodice.
‘‘I learned very quickly to do all the boning, and all the decorative work and attach the sleeves before you attach the skirt.
‘‘Because once you attach the skirt, which is like five metres of fabric, it becomes almost impossible to use the sewing machine.’’
Although Tucker had made a lot of clothes before, especially for her daughters, costume making was new for her.
‘‘I’ve done a lot of personal dressmaking. Never any costume making, and nothing on this scale.
‘‘I’m never going to make things like this on an ordinary occasion.’’
She is looking forward to seeing her costumes on stage.
‘‘I think it’ll be really lavish. The production is a really lighthearted romp with lots of music and dancing.
‘‘It’ll be interesting to see how the dresses hold up to that.’’
Nell Gwynn is set in the 17th century, when Charles II reopened the theatres that were closed under the Puritans, and allowed women on stage.
The role of Charles II is played by Richard Corney, one of the founders of Wellington coffee shop Flight Coffee, in his first major role on stage.
Ten local King Charles spaniels are rostered to appear alongside him.
Nell Gwynn runs from September 20-30 at the Gryphon Theatre on Ghuznee Street.
Sarah Tucker, left, creating the dresses for Wellington Repertory Theatre’s upcoming production of Nell Gwynn, above.