Three-foot-wide headdresses, hundreds of feathers, millions of sequins, and a 24-foot-long bus named Priscilla. This is only a taste of what to expect in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a fabulous, feel-good journey through the Australian Outback set to a hit parade of infectious pop hits.
“When planning for our 2016 season, Meg Fofonoff, Fiddlehead’s founder, and I were looking for a production that had a message,” said Stacey Stephens, co-director and costume designer. “In addition to presenting highest-quality theater art, we always strive to push the audience in some way—to think about society in a new way. Priscilla was a perfect choice. Underneath the glittery costumes and disco tunes this show has a real, poignant message about finding yourself and embracing who you are.”
Here, in his own words, Stephens gives us a look inside at his fabulous designs.
“One of the things audiences loved about the original 1994 film were the fabulous drag queen costumes, which won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. I wanted the same wow factor, but I never want to copy another designer’s work. I went on my own experience of having seen many drag shows and performing drag as well. I also took inspiration from avant-garde designers like Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier.”
“One of the iconic dresses in the original film is a hilarious frock made of flip-flops. I made my own riff on this dress by using plastic googly eyes. It was a crazy challenge connecting over 150 plastic eyes together, but the result is definitely a wow. I had enough left over to even make a matching purse and sunglasses.”
“We created 11 three-foot-wide headdresses that are covered with crazy, colorful found objects: flowers, bananas, feathers, you name it. They’re quite heavy, and to keep them in place on the actors we used baseball helmets and traffic cones as a base!”
“A lot of the drag queens I’ve seen make their own costumes with ‘found’ items. I wanted to work with this idea of found items, also, so the costumes would appear homemade, not 100 percent polished. It stays true to the main characters in the show, who would have created their own designs on a shoestring budget.”