fairy godmother of theatre: the director of GPT uses her magic on costumes and budgets | News

With a bit of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” magic, Great Plains Theater operations manager Becky Dibben balances checkbooks and payroll with one hand and hand-sews unique costumes for each of her actors with the ‘other.

Since the 2000s, Dibben found herself working behind the scenes while her family played roles in the many GPT productions. She previously created costumes for Junction City Little Theater & Chapman High School and when Dibben finds the time, she helps local brides as a seamstress.

With the start of costume preparation for GPT’s upcoming production “Madagascar: A Jr. Musical Adventure,” Dibben expanded his idea board with footage from other theatrical performances and visuals of the many animal characters. The production will have 40 children on stage and eight students helping out behind the scenes. So, sitting with art director Mitchell Aiello, he and Dibben discussed and debated every little scene down to the shoes of the smallest character.

“I think a good example for Madagascar of a collaboration between direction and costumes is a song from the show called ‘Steak,'” Aiello said. “He’s the main lion when they go to Madagascar. There isn’t necessarily meat to eat, but there are berries and vegetables. But lions are carnivores, they need meat. He lacks meat in his diet, so he dreams of eating steak. In his dream, there is a theatrical performance that comes to life. It’s a full jazz song and dance with steaks and waiters. So we brought it up because there are many ways to represent steak through a person and how do we do that? Want giant steaks? Don’t want giant steaks? »

They decided to dance with or like big steaks wouldn’t work with their stage size, so Dibben was inspired by the meat dress music artist Lady Gaga wore at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and plans to create fake meat skirts for the dancers. .

After sitting down with Aiello to discuss what he needs with the costumes, Dibben takes on the challenge of figuring out which costume design works best for his actors. For the character of Gloria, GPT selected a local high school student to take on the role, and Dibben had to find a way to give his actor the hips of a hippopotamus.

“I don’t want a hippopotamus in a dress,” she said. “I prefer having her in a jumpsuit and she has wide hips and a big ass.”

She figured the best way to create her hippo dress was to make gray overalls that fit around the actors waist, shoulders and legs while leaving room for hip pads. Dibben creates costumes for actors of all shapes and sizes, so she gets resourceful with what pieces are in the costume closet and what the actors can supply themselves.

“We don’t have a thousand-dollar budget for costumes,” Dibben said. “So we usually save things to make them. It’s like some of these characters are wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts that I picked up at Goodwill and stuff thrown at them. Usually, especially in children’s shows, like Madagascar, I have to say “Ok children, I need shoes”. Because we’re talking about little actors who wear a size four. But, I also had a high schooler who needed a size 14.”

While his actors may need to wear old costumes or donated parts, Dibben makes sure to use his magic to create those parts into unique new costumes.

For the character of Alex, she plans to use a lion costume that has ended up on stage for multiple productions in Abilene, Junction City and Chapman. However, Dibben released donated fur jackets that will add new fur for Alex’s costume.

“Sometimes I really struggle to put on the same costume if it’s been seen multiple times, so I give it a facelift,” she said. “I’m going to use fabric that people have given me and remake it or as if this jacket was given away. He collapsed. If I take pieces out of them, add them to this lion costume. I did something that was kind of trash in a costume.

For Dibben, she is grateful for any small donation of old clothes as it helps her create new costumes for her actors. She can also breathe new life into clothes that haven’t been worn in years, like a ballgown used in the musical “Music Man.”

“A lady donated her prom dress,” Dibben said. “Then a picture of the dress was in the newspaper. She recognized her prom dress. She had to come to the show to see her prom dress on stage. It’s awesome. People like to see the things they have. stage data.