'His Girl Friday' Costume Scoop!

Daniel Coghlan takes a peek at the vintage designs for this classic play.

TIME: EARLY EVENING. THURSDAY. 31 AUGUST 1939.”

And so the stage is set for His Girl Friday, the fast-paced newsroom comedy based on the play The Front Page and its resulting 1940 film His Girl Friday. The cast for this classic play is the biggest we’ve had this year, which means it’s been as busy as any newsroom here at MTC HQ for the past month. Cast member John Leary recently posted this picture of the cast’s mugs on Instagram – it’s no wonder we have to wait a little longer
for our coffee in the morning!

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One of the exciting things about any show set in yesteryear is the opportunity to buy and create vintage costumes. A sneaky peek in the wardrobe department revealed the team are hard at work sourcing and recreating pieces for each character that match Chicago’s 1939 fashion trends. Here are some exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures of the costume designs providing a glimpse of what audiences can expect:

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As you can see, the costume for Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (to be played by Pamela Rabe) includes a jacket dress; a popular staple of late 1930s women’s workwear. In fact, we found a Best & Co advertisement for a similar outfit in the New York Times from the day the play is set which describes it as “a ‘uniform’ with scores of smart young women … They love the new look of its hour-glass waistline and tiny flaring peplum. Ideal choice for your first days back in town.” So it seems our Hildy will be bang on trend!

With the arrival of the Great Depression the bright and colourful clothes of the Roaring 20s gave way to more subdued tones. Browns, greys and blacks became common in every day wear, and this is reflected in the His Girl Friday designs – especially in the courthouse journalists’ outfits:

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However, the era’s colour palette wasn’t all sepia-toned. In fact, just like in The Wizard of Oz (which was released six days before His Girl Friday is set), there were bursts of colour as well. Costume Designer Tracy Grant Lord has added a range of more colourful options in addition to the browns, blacks and greys.

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You can see the full spectrum of vintage designs live on stage when His Girl Friday begins at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse, on 11 August.

All costume designs copyright Tracy Grant Lord 2012

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