Monday, 6 July 2015

Snow White and the Curse of the Ice Queen

Photo by Ashley Foster

So last Sunday afternoon the juniors put on their last performance of the year before breaking up for the summer. It was decided they would perform a mini panto 'Snow White and the Curse of the Ice Queen' by Peter Nuttall (adapted by one of the adult members).

What I tend to do when we start a play, is I will go through the script highlighting the first appearances of characters; any descriptions of the characters appearances; differences in time i.e. next day, event, flashback etc; and make notes of anywhere with quick costume changes needed. Doing this also helps me get a feel for what the personalities/attitudes of the characters are like. This process is called Script Analysis, and is very important in order to get a feel and understanding for what is expected of the appearances of the characters.

I then write out the list of characters, one to a page and write down their appearances, any quoted descriptions, and number of costumes needed according to the script; this will be written down in pen, as these are definitive. I will then go through and jot down in pencil anything I personally take from the script to discuss with the director/writer.

The director decided the costumes should be modern because of the use of a mobile phone by the Magic Mirror (yes, a mirror, although it is magic so...) and Snow white.

I got to work sketching ideas down on scraps of paper whenever an idea came about. Later on I would then draw these up neater, to show and discuss with the director.

However before adding colour to my designs, I always make photocopies of the original, which is then put away, and I mess around with colour on the photocopies. This year I have started using watercolour pencils as a way of rendering my designs. I used to use colouring pencils, but handily I came across a paint brush that had a screw on compartment for water allowing for a steady flow whilst adding a wash to the watercolours, which can also be very handy for travelling. I would definitely recommend getting one (I think they're just called Water colour brushes or water colour brushes with water tank/compartment, if you are interested).

Now because most of the costumes we have in stock aren't that modern and we have no budget, I had to ask the junior actors themselves if they had specific items of clothing that would fit in with their characters. Obviously I had to make compromises on the costumes, which is incredibly difficult when you want them to look as close as they can to the design, but I still tried my best with what we could work with.

Photo by Ashley Foster
Design by Katie Pollitt
For Snow White I wanted to keep the colours we are all so used to seeing on  Disney's Snow White; a long dress with dark blue bodice with puffed light blue slashed sleeves, revealing red beneath; stand up white collar; long yellow skirt; red bow in her hair and yellow kitten heels. In order to modernise this I began to mess with the idea of doing a blue t-shirt and yellow skinny jeans, or yellow skater skirt or long blue top and yellow leggings, but then realised she had to be girly and the complete opposite to her sister Rose Red, a boyish selfish character.

So I designed the outfit to be a blue blouse with puffed sleeves and a white peter pan collar, a yellow skater skirt and red ballet pumps.

Photo by Ashley Foster
Design by Katie Pollitt
Rose Red as I just mentioned needed to be the opposite of Snow White in personality so why not in costume as well. A fan of one direction as she quotes in the script I thought it would be funny if she were to wear a One Direction T-shirt, luckily because of the age range, one of the girls happened to have one we could borrow. I then designed her to wear a red blouse with silver spikes on the collar (an item of clothing I was familiar with as my sister owned one) and knew it would fit the character's personality well. Pairing this with black skinny trousers,  red converses, and a black rose tattoo that would be painted on her arm, using a stencil to save time.

For the two mothers in the play I wanted them to wear something that made them appear older and not 'down with the kids'

Now I originally wanted Old Mother Black  to wear a wrap around apron, head scarf and hair curlers beneath, to look like a housewife from a few decades ago. However, with less than 5 days till the show, there was a last minute actor change -from a small girl to a grown man!;  so a manic search for any costume that would even slightly fit the role and the actor had to take place. We eventually found quite a hideous outfit, but most importantly an apron and feather duster. Oh and of course a black wig,  bra and some falsies, to look...authentic...

The members of the family were named after colours: Snow White, for having skin as white as milk, Rose Red for having lips as red as ketchup, however they never mentioned in the script why Old Mother Black was named so. But because Snow White and Rose Red both had black hair, it only seems right that their mother would also have black hair...and a black skirt.

Photo by Ashley Foster
The Royals:

The director wanted 'Prince Charming's Mother' to be a character similar to Mrs Bouquet from 'Keeping Up Appearances', so I designed her to be dressed similarly and luckily I had a dress perfect for the part, one of my Gran's dresses from some time ago, and it fitted the actress well. However I could tell when the she  tried on the dress that she wasn't particularly happy in it because she thought she would look silly in it, but we had to explain that she didn't and that it would be perfect for the character and their personality, knowing this she embraced it and did a great job.
Designs by Katie Pollitt
Prod the Goblin who turns out to be *SPOILER ALERT* Prince Tedious, Prince Charming's brother;  used to be a grown man who was turned into a goblin by one of the Ice Queen's curses, so I wanted his clothes to look big and baggy but also have regal colours, i.e.  the red of the shirt that I also used for Prince Charming's Wedding shirt.

In the script Prod must have three disguises in which he uses to try to sneak the poisoned apple into the fruit bowl within the Dwarves' cottage, without them becoming suspicious. Sadly the three disguises from the script couldn't be used because the actress wasn't able to do the French and Scottish accents. So we used basic disguises of different hats, sunglasses and a stick on beard.

From prompts of the script, I would have the first disguise as Prod's usual outfit but with a beard. The second disguise: the beard would be removed, a beret and thin moustache would be worn instead, the belt removed and the shirt worn open revealing a black and white striped t shirt. The third and last disguise: red shirt removed completely, beret switched for a Tam O'shanter and fake beard, worn on top of the moustache due to the quick costume change, and if possible I would have had a kilt be pulled down from underneath the striped t shirt (the bagginess wouldn't matter too much because of wearing the big red shirt); but I know that would have had to have been practiced to see if it was possible, at all first, and then within the amount of time to do the change.

In the next couple of posts I will go through some individual characters; talking about the making/altering of their costumes and the thoughts behind them, including: the Dwarves, the Ice Queen, the Magic Mirror and the Prince (Prince's Wedding Shirt).

Thank you to Ashley Foster for the character portrait photos. If you want to have a look at his other work or more photos from the junior production please visit his website at  
If you are interested in the drama group itself that I do the costumes for please check out their website at or their facebook page

Talk to you soon,

~ K

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