This semester I crossed something off my life list: costume a musical. The middle school drama class was performing High School Musical Jr. and I volunteered to do the costumes.
My budget was $0. So anything I bought I said I would pay for (although the show made more in donations than expected so I’ll be reimbursed for some things now).
My original goal was to keep the costs under $100 by utilizing pieces that the students already owned. In the end I probably spent closer to $150-200 for a few reasons. The first was that the show was double cast, so I had to find costumes that either fit both people playing each role or find separate pieces. Most of the time, the actors were close enough in size or I could get by if I bought pieces to be slightly roomy (and thus able to fit the larger of the two actors). The were a couple different pairs that I had to buy completely separate outfits for, our two Gabriellas being a prime example. The two Gabriellas were different sizes, heights, and shapes. I wanted them both in a blue dress to mirror the blue shirt that Troy would wear. Searching thrift stores for dresses in their sizes, that were blue, and youthful while being modest was a challenge, but it was so satisfying when the pieces finally came together.
Above you can see one of the Gabriellas, a Sharpay, and a Taylor. I was most pleased with Taylor’s costume, because it turned out exactly like my initial sketch for her. A white button down shirt with puffy sleeves, a purple tank top, purple plaid skirt, a purple tie, white knee socks (those are knee socks but on this particular Taylor they look like tights because she’s short. On the other Taylor they were knee socks), and black flats.
In the back of this picture you also see Kelsi in a multi-colored black top. Kelsi was tricky to costume because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to have her wear beyond glasses and a hat. Eventually my mum and I found that multi-colored black top and the rest of the costume came together.
I was really fortunate that we were able to borrow red and white cheerleader and basketball uniforms from another local middle school. Otherwise that would have been been a large expense. I made the cheerleaders bows to wear in their hair because all cheerleaders should have big bows in my opinion.
You only get a tiny glimpse of the character of Jack Scott (created for the musical) in the above picture, but his costume was one of my favorites because I had a plan for his costume and then completely threw it out the window. He was going to be a little geeky to match Kelsi, but then when I was going through my brother’s bags of stuff to be sent to Goodwill looking for pieces I might want to use, I found a neon green bro tank that said “Catch Some Rays” with a picture of Rayband sunglasses. Suddenly Jack morphed into a dude bro. This tank went over a white shirt for modesty, and then he got a green baseball that was worn sideways and this pair of very funky green party glasses that had bright stars printed on the lenses.
The most expensive costume piece was Sharpay’s blonde wig. Initially I hadn’t planned to put Sharpay in a wig at all, but then with two weeks to the show one of the two Sharpays cut her hair into a pixie cut. It’s a cute hairstyle but not very Sharpay. So I decided to turn to a wig. Now, we could have bought a cheap Halloween wig for $15-20 and called it a day, but as a perfectionist that wasn’t in line with /my vision/ for the show. Thinking it over, I figured out a style for a wig that I could reuse in the future for cosplays and made the investment to get a nicer, lace front wig. It was worth it, both Sharpays put the wig on and instantly were more in character and everyone gushed about how natural the wig looked.
Sharpay’s costume was easy in that I knew I wanted her in hot pink, but also challenging because there were so many great pink options. Ultimately she wore a hot pink top with a pink and black sparkly skirt, and then she had a second more sparkly outfit for Bop to the Top. Ryan’s costumes mirrored Sharpay’s.
One of my biggest focuses was making sure that the costumes on both the main characters and the background cast featured a lot of color. I watched a lot of different HSM productions on youtube and one thing that I saw over and over were drab colors, which is a shame because HSM is such a fun, high energy show. Additionally, when possible I tried to layer clothing or give characters accessories to make their costumes feel more like real outfits.
The kids in the show were great, and I had an awesome time working with them. That said, I can’t believe HSM first came out when I was in middle school and the same age as these kids. It makes me feel really old. Oh well.
What team? WILDCATS!
Stay magical readers!