Xandria Wylde's Hot Mess eXpress
Produced by Zeider's American Dream Theater in October 2021.
After having seen HMX while it was still being workshopped at Zeider's several years ago, it was a privilege to help produce this show from the ground up for the very first time. The show was described as "The Odd Couple meets Ru Paul's Drag Race." While very farcicle, this show is also a heartwarming coming out story.
Featured at left are the rendering and final version of Xandria's curtain call dress, as well as a video of Xandria's quick change in the Epilogue.
The carousel galleries feature slides from my original presentation to the director on character concepts, as well as images from the final production. Be sure to click on the images to view them full sized.
Act I, Scene 1 was about establishing Al as the boring half pair of roommates and Xandria as the "trash queen." Xandria's "Spirit Halloween-salvaged showgirl" ended up being made from stock pieces. Her "gown formerly known as evening-wear" had unfinished tiger stripes that the actor took to drawing on with a Sharpie onstage. This is also the basis of the curtain call gown's design.
(Descriptions are continued between galleries.)
Act I, Scene 2 features Xandria in a more raw state and introduces some family conflict for Al, whose mother and stepdad show up right as he's rushing out the door for work. I'd originally imagined Rick, the stepdad, looking like more of a sportscoat type of guy, but though he is a businessman, the rehearsal process really brought out the down-to-earth, outdoorsy side of his character, and his costumes shifted accordingly. Geneva, Al's mom, ended up in brighter colors than I originally conceptualized, which I felt worked well for her forcefully bright personality.
In Act II, Xandria gets up to some shenanigans with a stolen couch cushion, turning it into oversized hip pads for her Holly Golightly number. While I tried a dress on Geneva for the brunch part of the scene, I so strongly preferred her in a skirt suit that I changed the design for this scene.
Act III starts off with Al in a deep depression. The director and I had originally discussed moving Al and Xandria into coordinating drag in this scene to symbolize their acceptance of eachother, but it wasn't feasible. We opted instead for an old Hollywood-style, woman-on-the-run look for Xandria. Kevin, Al's love interest, was also in a simplified version of his costume to make a quick change easier at the end of the scene.
The epilogue features Kevin and Al (and Xandria) moving in together. Al is starting to wear more color as he gets more in touch with his feelings. I agonized over what to put Xandria in for this scene, originally thinking a robe to make underdressing easier for her quick change. Instead, we opted for a 1950s housewife dress-- very I Love Lucy, as she's settling into domestic life. As you can see in the video at the top of the page, the quick change went off without a hitch.
Originally we'd talked about having full changes into drag-inspired looks for everyone for the curtain call, but that wasn't feasible from a quick change perspective OR a budgetary one. Xandria did get one more change, though. This tiger-striped brocade dress, based on the "trash queen" tiger dress from Act I, Scene 1, was meant to show Xandria as the fully realized version of herself-- the person she's always dreamed of being.
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