When Sense and Sensibility’s director, Shelagh Grasso, asked her long-time friend Sally Borghardt to design costumes, they quickly realized a special challenge: the dialogue and plot are straight out of Regency England but the staging in this version is very 21st century. Inspired by Steam Punk and Cosplay and British holiday pantomimes, with Cirque de Soleil thrown in for good measure, Sally decided to have fun. Let’s spell that FUN!
Aside from the three Dashwood sisters, who wear accurate period clothing, most of the other actors are clad in black and white leggings, with horizontal stripes for the women and vertical stripes for the men. Their tops are simple black leotards or white tunic shirts. The actors add extra garments when they portray specific characters and almost everyone, at some point, is a nosy in-your-face gossip sporting a purple tutu. Because they must change so quickly, it’s all done right in front of the audience.
Sally Borghardt is a graduate of the Royal College of Music’s elite drama department, where they studied in Anna Pavlova’s former home in north London and Helen Mirren was a classmate. After graduation, Sally taught literature and theater production in Britain before moving to the U.S., where she taught school and became very active in community theater. She has been working as part of “Team Grasso” since imparting British accents to Shelagh Grasso’s students in a Queen Anne’s County High School production of My Fair Lady.
Sense and Sensibility opens at Church Hill Theatre on March 17 and runs through April 2, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 pm and Sundays shows at 2 pm. Information and tickets are available on the website www.churchhilltheatre.org or by calling the office at 410-556-6003.