Vote Charles P. Smith this “November”

04Nov09

All-American

Recently opened at A.C.T. is the West Coast premiere of David Mamet’s November, a show set in the Oval Office.  Now, even President Obama has failed to push White House fashion much further than snappy ties with a conservative suit, so the show could have been a bore to costume. Despite this, costume designer Alex Jaeger and I still found ways to have some fun.

For the supporting characters, we transformed several core company members of A.C.T. who might normally be recognized from their regular appearances on stage. For example, we added a long wig and a colorful headdress of porcupine and deer hair to veteran Stephen Anthony Jones. He was transformed into Micmac Indian Chief Dwight Grackle, effectively boosting the climatic scene where he storms the Oval Office demanding repayment for crimes against his tribe.  The SF Examiner praised our image overhaul.

Appealing offbeat performances come from company stars unrecognizable in their roles. The usually glamorous René Augesen is the jet-lagged, head-cold-afflicted presidential speech writer (just back from adopting a baby in China and determined to marry her girlfriend), while matinee idol Manoel Felciano is the wimpy, balding National Turkey Association representative.

Aside from these grand gestures, some very detailed costuming is done to help the cast get into character. Some of these details are ones that the audience would never notice. For example, the representative for the National Federation of Turkey Manufacturers wears a hilarous lapel pin of a turkey flying across the American flag. And in Act III, the President dons cufflinks with a carefully reproduced impression of the Presidential Seal.


Production photos by Kevin Berne

Update:

It seems that President Charles P. Smith has higher approval ratings than we thought, because the show has been extended for another week until November 22nd.  So, you’ve got now plenty of time to check out the show.  In the meantime, get a few laughs from the show’s ad that I acted as stylist for.

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