In Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play Casa Valentina, a group of male friends relish the opportunity to get away from it all in the Catskills and dress as women. That’s where Rita Ryack comes in—the Tony-nominated costume designer has created an array of vibrant looks for the ensemble cast to wear, transforming stars Patrick Page, Gabriel Ebert, Reed Birney and more into fashionable ladies. Ryack is giving Broadway.com a peek into her creative process—check out her inspiration for her colorful costumes, then see them come to life onstage in Casa Valentina!
"This photograph, from an online vendor, gave me the idea for Valentina's (played by Patrick Page) black nylon slip and for the flower on the bodice of her brocade dress."
"Terry Farmer's (played by John Cullum) lavender lace dress references Judith Anderson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
"These plastic pop beads, an innovation from the late '50s, evoke that period's bright color, texture and sense of play."
"Cleopatra was an early '60s icon. I imagined that the Casa Valentina girls, particularly Bessie (Tom McGowan) might admire movie star Elizabeth Taylor."
"This advertisement, featuring model Suzy Parker, inspired Gloria's (played by Nick Westrate) vibrant red hair."
"I love the way food illustrations from the period combine colors. Director Joe Mantello and I first conceived a bright Technicolor palette, then toned it down to slightly more muted tones: lavender, aqua, peach and olive green."
"Fallout shelters were a preoccupation during the Cold War, and Amy's (played by Larry Pine) color scheme is derived from this book color."
"I love to collect floral and novelty print wallpapers and fabrics from the '50s and '60s, and thought of Casa Valentina as a garden of unusual characters."
"These are some of the real guests at Casa Susanna in the Catskills, and this photograph was one of my key pieces of research."
"The palette we began with included this vivid cobalt, but we eliminated it when we decided to go with more secondary and tertiary color."
"Another late '50s style icon: Commuter Barbie in her suit."
"These are some of the real guests at Casa Susanna at the Catskills posing for a self portrait."
"These powder puffs make me think of Terry (played by John Cullum)."
"I wanted to give Gloria (played by Nick Westrate) an armful of these cha-cha bracelets, but the beads caught on everything and fell off. Love the colors of this one!"
"This photograph of the real Casa Susanna girls at the dining table gives excellent information about wigs, glasses and jewelry."