Inquiring Readers: This post combines two of my passions: Jane Austen and the Regency Era and Project Runway. Emilio Sosa’s (Esosa’s) beautiful fashions earned him the runner up position in Project Runway Season 7. Two of his sketches for the costumes of Sense and Sensibility the Musical are included below.
CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR
WORLD PREMIERE OF
“SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL”
The Denver Center Theatre Company’s (DCTC) world premiere production of SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL,with book and lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow and music by Neal Hampton, will receive its world premiere production April 5 – May 26, 2013 in The Stage Theatre at the Denver Center for Performing Arts at 14th and Champa.
Starring in the pivotal Dashwood sister roles will be Stephanie Rothenberg as Elinor and Mary Michael Patterson as Marianne. Ms. Rothenberg made her Broadway debut last season as Rosemary opposite Nick Jonas in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and then starred as Princess Anne in the Guthrie Theater’s world premiere musical, Roman Holiday. Ms. Patterson had her Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes.
The sisters’ romantic entanglements will be portrayed by three of Broadway’s leading men. Nick Verina, seen as Young Ben in the recent Broadway revival of Follies with Bernadette Peters, will take on the role of Edward; Jeremiah James, who starred as Billy Bigelow in the West End revival of Carousel and as Curly in the first national tour of Oklahoma!, will portray Willoughby; and Robert Petkoff, Broadway’s recent Lord Evelyn Oakleigh opposite Sutton Foster in Anything Goes, will be the upstanding Colonel Brandon.
Additional Broadway talent joining the cast includes Ed Dixon (Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George, Mary Poppins, How the Grinch Stole Christmas) as Sir John; Ruth Gottschall (Mary Poppins, The Music Man, Funny Thing…Forum) as Mrs. Jennings, and Joanna Glushak (Sunday in the Park with George, Urinetown, Les Misérables) as Mrs. Dashwood/Mrs. Ferrars.
The production boasts a formidable production team, including Set Designer Allen Moyer, Tony nominee for Grey Gardens; Costume Designer ESosa,2012 Tony nominee for The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and “Project Runway” finalist; acclaimed Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls; Sound Design byCraig Breitenbach (world premiere of The Laramie Project); Music Supervisor David Loud, whose recent Broadway productions include The Gershwin’sPorgy and Bess and The Scottsboro Boys; Music Director and Conductor Paul Masse, whose Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys, as well asCurtains, Chicago, Avenue Q, 42nd Street, and Gypsy, and Orchestrations are by Kim Scharnberg and Neal Hampton.
Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson selected SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL after it became a runaway hit at the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit.
About ESosa, the Costume Designer
ESosa, costume designer for Sense & Sensibility The Musical, based on Jane Austen’s much loved first novel, moves effortlessly between the fashion world and the theatre world. This rising fashion star, better known as Emilio to his Project Runway fans, is also widely admired for finishing second in Season 7 as well as in the most recent Project Runway All-Stars. Yet ESosa has supported himself for much of his career by designing costumes for more than 75 productions regionally and on Broadway.
Today he sees himself as a fashion designer first: “I’ve had a wonderful career in theatre and I’m very blessed, but when I look in the mirror, I always see a fashion designer first and a theatre designer second. I use elements of both, because my fashion informs my theatre and my theatre informs my fashion. They go hand in hand.”
So when conceiving the costumes for Sense & Sensibility, he approached it as a time-travelling fashion designer working in 1810: “I start by designing clothing, and then I worry about theatricalizing the garments later.” The Regency period of Austen’s novels, recognized most of all for the signature Empire waistline of the ladies’ dresses, provided an abundance of elements to work with: stripes which allow for the creation of chevrons and diamonds, but also florals, polka dots, brocades, lace, jewelry, chiffon. “What was big in this period was transparency. It was a very sexy period for women and men. Bosoms were big, and bosoms don’t go out of style.”
And of course color. On Project Runway ESosa became known for his bold use of color. Will any of that be on display?
“Oh yes, we’ll be playing with bolder colors. You have some characters that call for it, like Lucy. She’s more of a free spirit. For me color is an indication of personality.” The two Dashwood sisters will be dressed in blues (Elinor) and pinks (Marianne). One can only imagine the color palette he’ll come up with for Mrs. [Jennings], the boisterous and comic busybody.
How will this production differ from fastidiously researched film and TV versions of Austen’s oeuvre that periodically come to us from across the pond?
“We’re going to be true to the period,” says ESosa, “but we’re going to experiment with color and pattern and make it visually exciting.” Marcia Milgrom Dodge, director of the musical, wanted to bring his “fearless fashion sensibility” to the refined, stately Regency fashions. “The world of Jane Austen is often depicted in film and television with slavish authenticity,” she explains. “I wanted someone who would honor the period but also be bold and find modern gestures that will illuminate character and help the audience identify with them in a very immediate way. With his keen fabric choices, witty accessories and smart use of color, ESosa is exactly that designer to bring these beloved characters to vivid life.”
As far as the men are concerned, the designer says he’ll be staying very true to the period’s silhouette—tailcoats and top hats—again taking some liberties with color and fabric selections: “Where I have my freedom is in the color combinations, the details that we add, the shaping. We will tweak it a little. My goal is always to make my actors feel and look good and able to tell the story.”
Oddly enough, ESosa says he is more often recognized as a former Project Runway contestant by theatre people than by people from the fashion industry. Perhaps more theatre people watch the show than those who do fashion for a living? But the show has helped raise his profile in both worlds. He believes a series like Project Runway can do a lot of good: “It’s a great platform for American fashion, and I’m a great proponent of Made in America. I think as a country we need to support our homegrown artists, especially in fashion.”
Born in the Dominican Republic and brought to the United States at age 3, ESosa was raised in Fort Apache, a tough area of the South Bronx. His interest in art and fashion eventually took him out of the Bronx, first to Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design and then to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. One of his early professional jobs was as a personal dresser for Judith Jameson and as an apprentice costume-maker for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
The story about how he landed his first Broadway production, Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, shows the moxie underlying ESosa’s low-key demeanor. Running into Public Theater artistic director George C. Wolfe in the streets of New York, he summoned his courage and went up to him, announcing “Mr. Wolfe, I’m the best costume designer you’ve never worked with.”
“George likes that kind of bravado,” the designer explained. “He was interested. …They brought me in and I had a great, great meeting with him.” Needless to say he got the job and even went on to design Suzan Lori Park’s wedding dress.
ESosa’s two-track career continues full steam ahead. The fashion designer recently launched his own clothing line and has shown collections in New York, Miami and Paris. The costume designer won a Lucile Lortel award for Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and was nominated for a Tony Award for his work on Porgy and Bess. He feels that his burgeoning fashion fame will not pull him away from the theatre: “I will always have a presence in the theatre. It’s just a matter of finding the balance. It’s part of my life. It’s part of my DNA.”
More About Sense & Sensibility The Musical
April 5 – May 26 • Stage Theatre
Producing Partners: The Anschutz Foundation, Joy S. Burns, Daniel L. Ritchie, June Travis
Sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton, Denver and U.S. Bank
Signed & Audio Described • May 19, 1:30pm
SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL is based on the novel by Jane Austen. Book and lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow, Music by Neal Hampton. Directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday performances at 6:30pm
Friday and Saturday evening performances at 7:30pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:30pm
No children under four admitted.
Tickets and Subscriptions
Tickets ($55 – $65) are available now by calling 303.893.4100 or 800.641.1222 (TTY 303.893.9582). Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to Broadway shows, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed.
SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL is presented by special arrangement with Betty Ann Besch Solinger and Alice Chebba Walsh. This production of SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL, generously sponsored by U.S. Bank and The Ritz-Carlton, is part of the Denver Center Theatre Companyand Denver Center Attractions (DCA) 2012/13 seasons. SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL Producing Partners: The Anschutz Foundation, Joy S. Burns, Daniel L. Ritchie, June Travis. DCTC is generously supported by Larimer Square, The Steinberg Charitable Trust and Wells Fargo Advisors. DCA is generously supported by United Airlines and Vectra Bank. Media sponsors are The Denver Post and CBS4. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. Please visit our website at www.denvercenter.org