Costumer brings 1800s to life on stage

High Society fashions take centre stage in Langham Court Theatre’s Lady Windermere’s Fan

Morgan Ambrose

Morgan Ambrose

From monkey costumes to elaborate ball gowns, Diane Madill has sewn it all.

As one of Langham Court Theatre’s costume designers, she has, for half a dozen years now, been integral in bringing to life the visual aspects of the theatre company’s productions on stage.

And even though her task at hand for Langham Court’s upcoming production of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan was daunting, she’s had greater challenges.

“To do a play like this, where you’re not coping with (the movements of actors) singing and dancing, it isn’t as challenging in some ways,” Madill said. “It’s still challenging and it’s a lot of work, but it’s quite doable.”

The retired high school teacher – she taught fashion studies, and helped make the costumes for school plays – says the biggest challenge in costuming for Lady Windermere’s Fan is the scope and wide range of intricate costumes and pieces that are needed.

“There’s 24 in the cast. There’s 13 ball gowns and then there’s day outfits as well, which are just as labour intensive,” she said. “Because of the period, there are hats and fans, very elaborate hair accessories, jewelry, the gloves, the crinolines. … And then there’s all the little details in these: the beadwork and rows and ruffles.”

Set in the late 1800s and early 1900s – the late Victorian, early Edwardian eras – Madill and fellow costume designer Susan Ferguson had to design most of the period-accurate costumes for the play from scratch.

Madill’s work began last winter, when she first read the play, then she made a spreadsheet of all the characters in each scene and how long they’re on stage. It helps her organize the needs of each character and what is required of each costume.

“That’s the way my mind works. I can look at a spreadsheet and I can see how many costumes each person needs, how quick a character’s (costume) changes are, and so you know who’s on stage together at one time, because it’s important for colour and working a palette,” she said. “I like to do a play where you’re actually designing things from scratch with piles of fabric.”

A release from Langham Court describes Lady Windermere’s Fan as an exploration of “just how horrid High Society could be behind the scenes.

“Set in a world where social graces and proper behaviour are all it takes to make-or-break one’s social-place … Oscar Wilde uses his acerbic wit and British humour to comment on the strident rules that govern London’s 1890s High Society.”

Lady Windermere’s Fan runs nightly (8 p.m.) at Langham Court Theatre (805 Langham Crt.) from Nov. 22 to Dec. 8. There are also matinees on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.

Tickets ($21 for adults, $19 for students and seniors) are available online at Langhamtheatre.ca, in person at the box office, or by calling 250-384-2142.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

Postmark Group, an Edmonton-based development firm, bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year, and is reaching out to the community and local groups for feedback before they begin planning the designs for the development. (Photo contributed/Postmark Group)
Waterfront village development eyed for Sooke

Postmark Group development firm bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Most Read