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Twin Cities Mom Collective

Behind the Seams: Unveiling the Creative Costume Design in Alice in Wonderland

This post is sponsored by Children’s Theatre Company

alice in wonderland
See Alice In Wonderland February 13 – March 31, 2024, at Children’s Theatre Company

As parents, we often find ourselves searching for engaging and enriching experiences to share with our children. A wellspring of creativity and wonder lies within the world of theater. And what better way to dive into this magical realm than through the lens of costume design? Twin Cities Mom had the special opportunity to glimpse the fascinating world of costume design with Sarah Bahr, the Associate Costume Designer for Alice in Wonderland at Children’s Theatre Company this spring.

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Sarah Bahr – Associate Costume Designer, Alice in Wonderland | Photo by Blake Nellis

 

Sarah’s journey into costume design is as fascinating as the productions she helps bring to life. From learning to sew from her mother at age four, to childhood days filled with art and make-believe and discovering her passion for storytelling through clothing, Sarah’s path led her to a career where imagination knows no bounds.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Sarah’s work is her collaboration with directors, set, lighting, and sound designers, to ensure a cohesive visual storytelling experience. It’s a delicate dance of creativity and compromise, where each element contributes to the immersive world on stage. From sketching initial ideas to bringing them to life in the costume shop, Sarah’s process with the entire production team is a testament to the power of collaboration and creativity.

The costumes, designed by the late Skip Mercier in 2013 for the previous run of Alice in Wonderland, are being used for this year’s production as well.

alice in wonderland
Drawings by Skip Mercier for the 2013 Production of Alice in Wonderland at Children’s Theatre Company

Collaboration truly runs throughout every aspect of the costume design in this production of Alice in Wonderland at Children’s Theatre Company. The costumes, designed by the late Skip Mercier in 2013 for the previous run of Alice in Wonderland, are being used for this year’s production as well. Sarah has been presented with a truly unique responsibility: honor Skip’s vision for the characters and their costumes while also carefully adding elements of her own to unify both productions.

 

While she doesn’t have any documentation stating that the costumes must look or be created a certain way, Sarah says it has been fascinating to interpret Skip’s original intentions for the costumes. It’s an exercise in seeing what was created in the past: bold uses of contrasting texture and color to create a unique point of view.

 

Alice: Anja Arora, White Rabbit: River Clementson | Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

Sustainability has been a hot topic of conversation in the theatre world. But for Sarah, sustainability is not just a buzzword—it’s a guiding principle in her design process. She meticulously sources materials, prioritizing secondhand items and repurposing fabrics to minimize waste. Her dedication to sustainability extends beyond the stage, as she considers the longevity of each garment and explores ways to give them new life after the curtains close.

As we prepare to embark on the whimsical journey of Alice in Wonderland at the Children’s Theatre Company, Sarah offers us a glimpse into the intricate details woven into each costume. From the tactile fuzzy purple jacket of the Cheshire Cat to the heart motif of the Queen of Hearts’ ensemble, there’s a treasure trove of secrets waiting to be discovered by keen-eyed audience members, young and old alike.

Sarah shared her excitement about designing costumes that invite children to engage with the characters on a deeper level. There are thoughtful details and storytelling nuances woven into each costume. From the mismatched and eccentric buttons sewn onto the costumes of the ensemble cast to the heart motif adorning every aspect of the Queen of Hearts’ ensemble, Sarah encourages children to look beyond the surface and imagine the stories behind each character.

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March Hare: Nathan Keepers, Mad Hatter: Dean Holt | Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

Perhaps the most delightful surprise lies in the subtle details that escape the spotlight. Sarah was gracious to share a few little secrets for young audience members to look for on stage. For instance, the ensemble actors in Alice in Wonderland sport crocs on their feet and hands as part of Caterpillar’s transformation. And the Queen of Hearts costume is adorned with hidden hearts, from her wig to her bloomers! These playful touches add a layer of magic to the production, inviting audience members to spot the unexpected and share in the joy of discovery.

As you prepare to journey down the rabbit hole with Alice and her enchanting companions, keep a sharp eye for the delightful surprises hidden within each costume. And like Alice, we hope you adopt a similar curiosity and intrigue of the world around you — leading you to your own exciting and unique discoveries. Don’t forget to share your discoveries from Alice in Wonderland with us—we’d love to hear about the magical moments that captivated your imagination!


 

See Alice In Wonderland February 13 – March 31, 2024. Tickets to Alice in Wonderland may be purchased online at https://childrenstheatre.org/whats-on/alice-in-wonderland/ or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400. Ticket prices start at $15 for kids and $25 for adults. Lap passes are available for children 3 years and younger.

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