Wicked: Dianne Pilkington
The Wicked actress goes through some glam costumes fit for a good witch
I have nine costume changes but only seven actual costumes. I start off in this costume here, which is Glinda at her most powerful, her most public figure, so it’s the hugest costume that I wear. Its got quite a large sort of queenly I think you’d call it a ruff or something, and very big sleeves, a huge skirt and its very corseted, and its completely full-length. This is what’s known as ‘the bubble frock’ and it’s the one that I fly in.
This is at the end of her story: we go back in time to her school uniform, which is almost like a Chanel-type of number complete with bag. She always has a bag, when she hasn’t got a wand she’s got a bag. It’s very important with the accessories. And a sort of full kick skirt which is ribbed so beautifully its fantastic. It really goes with the character.
At the beginning when she’s younger and she’s a student its still very couture, but its softer and the hemlines are quite short and the shoulders are quite narrow. This is like every girl’s first party frock, I think it should be. Again, you’ve got the heavily beaded handbag because this is her going out kind of thing. It’s very ruffly. Again, when you move it kind of kicks out and moves fantastically, which is great. We actually have a pair of shoes that go with it: she’s got sparkly high-heeled shoes, and trust me these are high, really high and very, very narrow. A great piece of advice I had right at the beginning of my career, ask for your shoes as soon as you possibly can because the way that you stand in a pair of heels or in a pair of strongly constructed shoes is going to be completely different from the way you’d stand in a pair of flip flops, which adjusts your character quite a lot.
Then I go to the Emerald City, and everything in the Emerald City is green apart from me. The hemlines are getting longer. This is more important I guess, she’s going somewhere where she’s hoping to become a public figure, she’s hoping to be noticed, so its slightly grander and a little bit less frilly than the stuff that she’s worn before. As she gets more important, I guess its like the ancient thing of the skirts got bigger the more important you were. By the end of it, she’s just got huge long skirts which are quite wide.
Then we go into Act Two, and by this point she is a public figure, she has become very much a spokeperson, so at this point, this is what I like to call my ‘overbraun’ outfit. It’s in two pieces. The skirt, as you can see, is getting fuller and slightly longer, its got a huge train on the back which is like a rainbow, which I love. Everything in Oz is slightly lopsided, so there’s only one arm to the top, and what you can see hanging up there is actually a glove to put on my other arm. Everything’s slightly off-centre, even the crowns that go with the other dresses – they don’t quite fall centre, they shoot off in other directions, they’re quite cool. Already the collars are getting bigger, the shoulders are getting slightly wider, the waists are getting narrower, and she’s getting grander.
I then get engaged and I have an engagement party, and this is her first full balldress, and, as you can see, its along the same lines asthe ‘bubble dress’, she’s getting there, she’s getting a little bit more grown up, she’s getting more of a public figure, it’s the green of Oz, and it’s got that lovely thing I used to love as a little girl – that slashed open thing. It looks like it’s got the underskirt and the slashed open bodice.
And then finally, she goes back into this, and this is the one with the huge wand and the huge crown, and she’s finally made it into her public figure.
The musical Wicked is one of the most successful of stage 'prequels'. It has become an international success story, telling the life stories of the witches of Oz before Dorothy turned up. In this backstage film, actress Dianne Pilkington traces the character development of Wicked’s Glinda via her nine costume changes. Pilkington also reveals the importance of shoes to her career path and tells us about her personal dressing-room favourites.
These are gowns befitting a social climber destined to become the Good Witch of the North, and include the ‘bubble frock’ and some rather lopsided finery.