This season on Broadway we’ve had an especially diverse array of stories. As Tina Fey put it, as she presented the Best Leading Actor award on the Tonys, “[we’ve had] straight men playing gay, gay men playing straight, anxiety disorders, existential crisis, accordions, and fat suits”.
I think that pretty much sums it up.
But in thinking over things, I came across to a startling revelation.
I’m always doing that kind of thing, to be honest.
We, the Broadway, community, are really into royalty right now.
Think about it. The Great Comet of 1812: The tragic story of a Russian princess who plummets from prestige to disgrace. Anastasia: The tragic story of a Russian princess in search of her family. And let’s not forget about the last names. Natasha Rostov? Anastasia Romanov? Is it a conspiracy? Is Natasha also Anastasia? Or vis versa? Or maybe there’s a real reason behind it all.
After thinking about it, it seems to me that we’re just continuing the natural obsession many of us seem to have with princesses and royalty in general. How many of us, when we were six, knew all the songs to all the Disney princess movies ever created? And even if we didn’t, I am sure we all at least knew someone who refused to wear anything but the enormous coral hoop dress her supportive parents bought her from Hollywood Costume.
I’m definitely not complaining about this royal resurgence. The powerful, thoughtful, and real princesses of Broadway musicals convey, in many cases, strong messages of sisterhood and female empowerment, to anyone attending the theatre, including the sixty eight percent of Broadway-goers who are women.
This really got my brain gears churning on the topic of princesses of Broadway from the past, present, and even the future. Sometimes when my brain gears get churning I start theatrically writing things and sometimes when my brain gears get churning, I start theatrically trying on outfits.The theatrical writing usually goes up on this blog. The trying on outfits is something I like to call Theatre Geek Chic.
It’s sort of an embarrassing name but it really covers the bases.
Theatre Geek Chic:
The Princess Edition.
- Natasha Rostov: I’ll never be this happy again
I was able to see The Great Comet when I visited New York City, and it was absolutely marvelous. As many of you know, during my Smart-Aleck Nerd Stage (and in an effort to make more friends during middle school) I read War and Peace, on which The Great Comet is based.
War in Peace is long. Extremely long. Almost sickeningly long, if I’m being perfectly honest. It’s also really, really good. And filled with Grand Affairs. And nearly every single character falls madly in love with every single other character at least once. It’s very dramatical.
In any case, from the start the character I’ve always related to and loved the most has been Natasha Rostov, who is a young princess spending the winter in Moscow during the French invasion of Russia. In The Great Comet, Natasha is played by Denee Benton who really captures all of Natasha’s life stages as she grows from a passionate teenager to a sadder and wiser woman (I took most of that from a Playbill) (sorry) (it’s all true).
I absolutely adored Natasha’s costumes in The Great Comet and so I knew she absolutely had to be on my list of Broadway Princesses.
For my Natasha-inspired outfit, I decided on a white, brocade babydoll dress that I bought at a thrift store. I actually wore this same dress when I went to see The Great Comet, and it was, of course, a smashing success. To a degree. Because I bought it at a thrift store, you may not be able to find this exact dress very easily (if you decide to emulate my outfit, which hopefully you will!) but really any high-waisted white dress will work. The designer is Moods of Norway (which sounds very mystical and is also fitting because I am of Norwegian descent). For Natasha jacket, I went with a white cardigan duster that I also bought at a thrift store*. Natasha also wears a headband but because I couldn’t find a headband, I eliminated that part, but I did add a little Eiffel tower Necklace that I bought for a dollar, because although Natasha lives in Moscow, she quite regularly speaks French. I added some red lipstick to dress this look up, since it seems appropriate for a theatre event or whatever other events could possibly exist* that you might be attending, but going bare-lipped is the original look from the musical, so feel free to wear it any way you like!
- Anastasia Romanov: Heart don’t fail me now, courage don’t desert me!
Anastasia and me. We’ve got a history. There is something (and whenever it is mentioned, it is whispered in hushed voices*) called That Time Where I Thought I was Anastasia Romanov Back From The Dead.
Sometimes your obsession with Russian history gets the better of you. For me, I guess, it was the mystery and myth hanging around Anastasia that drew me to her story. For those of you who don’t know, Anastasia Romanov was the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia and she and her entire family were imprisoned and executed when she was only seventeen years old. Here is a picture of her taking a selfie.
I mean, right?
Anyway, Lynn Ahrens * and Stephen Flaherty wrote an absolutely gorgeous score for an animated version of an old Ingrid Bergman film that had been made about Anastasia’s life if she had, as it was rumored, survived being executed.* It was my favorite animated movie for a really long time and when I heard it was coming to the stage, I was absolutely beside myself. I actually wrote a post about it, a long time ago, which I will link here in case you want to read Young Lil Freaking Out Immaturely (keep reading this if you want to read Old Lil Freaking Out Immaturely).
Anastasia has some gorgeous costumes in the musical, but because I’d already done a fancy shmancy outfit, I thought I would do the outfit she wears before she is recognized as the princess Anastasia, and is known simply as Anya.
This outfit reminded me a lot of Eponine’s outfit from Les Miserables, so I wanted to switch it up a little but. I also wanted to modernize it so that it’s something you can just wear on a casual day.
It’s a little bit hard to see, but I’m wearing brown skinny jeans under lacy white bohemian blouse that is fairly long, and then over that I’m wearing a longline grey blazer. I was going to wear boots but I forgot and wore brown high-heeled pumps instead, but I would recommend boots, any boots will work. I also tossed on a purple scarf to add a splash of color and I’m wearing the Eiffel Tower necklace again because Anya goes to Paris in the musical.
- Elphaba Thropp: I think I’ll try defying gravity, and you won’t bring me down!
I’ve always loved Elphaba, I’ve always loved Wicked. Sisterhood is such a strong message in that musical, and to me, especially because I have sisters, it’s really meaningful.
And, as it turns out, Elphaba Thropp, is a real, life princess. She was obviously always a princess inside, but providing she and Fiyero ended up getting married, she is also a princess in title!
I just really amaze myself sometimes.
For Elphie’s outfit, I decided to go with the adorably preppy look she has in The Wizard and I. I switched it up a little bit, by pairing a contrasting sky blue turtleneck with the iconic navy blue dress, which I changed from more traditionally-cut to a swing dress. I felt like this gave it an interesting mod spin, which I really loved! I wore black tights under the dress, navy flats, and because I don’t have a navy blue one, my famous lavender beret*. For Elfie’s jacket, I decided on a beautiful longline from H&M that I stole from my mom’s closet.
I really wanted to give a shout-out to Ellie’s beautiful artichoke complexion, so I decided to go with a wacky lip color by splashing on a plum lipstick I had leftover from when my choir sang Purple Rain.
I got most of these items from either my mother’s closet or a thrift store, but each of these pieces should be fairly easy to find, either online or from the mall.
(Sorry for saying that.)
That was so much fun, Theatre Geek Chic is back and stronger than ever! Please let me know in the comments below any Broadway characters you would like to see immortalized in the fashion of theatre geeks around the globe* and please, if you try out any of these outfits, tag me or use the hashtag #theatre geek chic and I will love you forever* and will feature everyone who does this on this blog!
*girl, thrift it or gift it is my motto. The “gift it” part doesn’t really make sense but it rhymes.
*To avoid scandal
*Who I absolutely adore forever and ever
*It turns out she didn’t, thanks National Geographic
*It’s famous because when I was in New York someone used it as a pick-up line, which incidentally, was quite flattering. You can read about it here, mon cheri.
*You wish, Lil, you wish.
*I already do, who are we kidding.