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Culture Lust by Angela Carone

The Clothes Are The Thing

The Old Globe is competing with Hollywood this weekend as each launch what I'm assuming are very different versions of The Women .   Hollywood gives us the big studio backed version of The Women starring Meg Ryan and her hair (ummm, Shirley Temple anyone?), Annette Benning, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, and Debra Messing.  Honestly, it looks awful.  But here in our own backyard, The Old Globe offers the stage version of The Women , directed by Darko Tresnjak , who has an affinity for comedies of decades past and says this play is the grandmother to contemporary comedies like Desperate Housewives , Sex and the City , and Gossip Girl

There's also a classic movie version from 1939, directed by George Cukor,  starring Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford.  If you haven't seen it, march on over to your computer, fire up the Netflix and add it to your playlist. It's a hilarious satire and catty romp through the lives of well-bred (mostly), but not well-behaved women in Manhattan high society.  Now, while you wait for the DVD to arrive, you can march (lots of marching) over to The Old Globe and see the stage version.  The Women was a play first, written by Clare Booth Luce , a playwright, turned editor, turned congresswoman.  She wrote the play as a biting commentary on her own social set in 1936 - it's an all-female cast, so you might say she put a portion of that social set under the microscope.  The story revolves around Mary Haines and her female friends, a group of women who gossip, snarl, marry, divorce, have affairs, talk about men and each other, and change their clothes.  It was a smash hit on Broadway, but since the popularity of the classic film, it's not staged all that often.  The classic film has, however, become a cult favorite with gay men.  Next time you go to Rich's, just toss out the term "jungle red' and you'll see what I mean.  Jungle red is the nail color worn by many of the women in the play/movie and becomes a code word for the gossip mill that feeds this well-dressed ecosystem.

There are lots of reasons to see this play, not the least of which is the witty dialogue. But one of the draws is undoubtedly the clothes -- the glorious, 1930's skirts, gowns, gloves, hats, jewelry, and shoes!  The Globe's costume department has been working like mad to create over 65 costumes for this production - and there are only 15 actresses!  That's a lot of costume changes.  There are around 25 wigs in the show, along with lots of hats, shoes, jewels, and handbags.   I visited the costume shop in the early days of the project, when the costumes were at the sketch stage and just beginning to be assembled.  I spoke with Darko and costume designer Anna Oliver about how they approached the costumes for some of the characters.  I also snapped some shots inside the costume shop.  Here's a behind-the-scenes look... I can't wait to see the finished products.   The Women goes into previews this Saturday, opens next Sunday, and runs through October 26th.


Click the image above to view the slideshow in a popup window.

September 13, 2008 at 10:38 PM
So I have a confession to make...I saw the new movie The Women. There are less than a handful of clever lines, not-so-great clothes, and a predictable, unforgivable ending. Annette Benning's performance was the best part. Go see the play instead! Great slide show Angela.....

Roxanne from Delaware
February 10, 2009 at 09:31 PM
The clothes in the Movie "The Women" were great! The movie was ok! The clothes were the best part of the movie.