Working 140 hours a week is normal for Larry Edwards and his team. Edwards, head of wardrobe for Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna,” has managed the show’s costumes, hair, and makeup since its 2011 inception. An ethereal love story with Shakespearean influence, “Amaluna” features 48 performers, 320 looks, and over 1,000 costume pieces, each created by Canadian designer Mérédith Caron. It’s no wonder that Edwards and his two wardrobe specialists are kept busy.
Before joining Cirque du Soleil seven years ago, Edwards was a performing arts professor and costume shop owner in Melbourne. He’s worked on two previous tours with Cirque, but Edwards swears of “Amaluna,” “The third time was the charm for me. I think this show has a special place because it was brand new. [We] created something from scratch. It’s a lovely team, which makes it easier.”
Q. What is a typical day like in the wardrobe tent?
A. We have three specific roles, but we all have the ability to interchange with one another. There’s Patsy, who does the stitching and repair work, there’s Rebecca, who does the shoe maintenance and repairs, and I do the wigs, ordering makeup inventory, making sure supplies are up to date, keeping an eye on people’s makeup. But every [performer] does their own.
Q. And what is that makeup process?
A. The performers all take between 40 minutes and an hour and a half to get their makeup on. Oil-based makeup [goes] on first, and then they reapply the exact same makeup in powders on the top. The oil always stays on.
Q. “Amaluna” has a predominantly female cast, which is the opposite of most Cirque du Soleil shows. How does that affect wardrobe and makeup?
A. We’re the biggest eyelash show.
Q. Do you have a favorite costume?
A. That’s like saying which is your favorite child. I’d say probably the Amazon characters, mostly because of the layers. They have a base costume that they perform in, and then they have a parade costume [to which] we add corsets, horsehair tails, headpieces, and great shoes. Their costumes are pretty fierce.
Q. Have you ever had any major wardrobe malfunctions?
A. Every single show. We’re very good at sewing performers into their costumes. If a zip breaks, for example, there are little tricks to fix it and get [the artist] on stage within 30 seconds.
Q. You have molds of each performer’s face in order to tailor-make masks. How does that work?
A. In the past, you had to use clay and actually sculpt a person’s face. Now, you can use a laser to do a full body scan. [At the Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal] they’ve got the scans, so at any point in time, I can ring in and say, “hey, I need a mask made for this person.” They can pull up the details, laser-cut the block of plaster, and have the person’s face in front of them.
Q. How important is wardrobe to “Amaluna”?
A. Keep in mind that [some] pieces are not only supposed to be fashion, they’re supposed to be practical. When you’re actually three stories high on a pole and then come sliding down, and the only thing stopping you from falling and face planting on the ground is your costume, your costume will take a beating.
Q. A costume can break such a huge fall? How?
A. You will just have to see.
Q. At least it’s only the costume that’s taking a beating.
A. Well, and some other parts of his body during creation. Until we found out exactly where we needed padding. A lot of costumes only make it through one city because we’re so harsh on them.