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Costume Planning for "The Phantom Tollbooth"
Costume Planning for "The Phantom Tollbooth"

by Eva Esparza, Music Teacher

This goes out to Elementary Parents and Students - as well as anyone else who'd like to take a peek backstage!

The time has come to get started on costumes for our upcoming musical, The Phantom Tollbooth, which we are performing on Friday, April 27 at 7:00 PM.

This production of The Phantom Tollbooth does not take place in any particular time or era, and the characters are not as iconic as they were in some of our last shows. This gives us a great deal of artistic freedom to create costumes and have our children create costumes to represent their characters. Please ask your children to read this letter so that they will take some ownership in creating their costumes.

In case there is any confusion about what role your child will be playing in the musical.....

  • All of the LE students will be singing in the Chorus.
  • Third year LE students sing in the Chorus but also have additional, special parts in the Chorus. Third years will be expected to have the same base costume as the rest of the Lower Elementary students. Throughout the show, third years will add their other costume pieces over their general base costume.
  • Many UE students are also singing in the Chorus and will be expected to have the same costumes as the rest of the Chorus. I will be sending out individual emails to the families in UE about all of the different roles that they will be playing throughout the show.
  • The Chorus takes on many different roles in this show. They are (in order of appearance): Demons, Lethargarians, Vendors at the Word Market, Demons again, Miners, and Demons again. I know that this is a lot of costume changing for the Chorus! Our LE students will be seated during the whole performance on the floor in the front and we will not have the ability to change them backstage. The LE students in particular enjoy watching the performance and then running up on stage when it is their turn to sing. We find that this is an enjoyable "first performance" experience for them. LE students will each have a labeled cloth bag on the floor with them and they will just add costume pieces over their base costume throughout the show.

The base costume for the Chorus is black pants and a black shirt (I prefer long sleeved shirts but short sleeved is okay). I prefer black leggings or black thermal underwear so that the clothing can easily be worn under other costume pieces.

No writing or modern graphics on the base costume. Some images and logos could be easily be covered with black duct tape. Theatrical costumes don't need to have perfect details. The audience is looking at the actors from a faraway distance and the theatrical lighting will be dramatic and will make it hard to see small details anyway. Over the years, I have found that the most important aspect of theatrical costumes is creating the correct silhouette of the character.

Here is a picture of a pair of black thermal leggings that could work as a base costume:


Since this base costume is so simple, the members of the Chorus are required to add at least one costume piece to each Choral character throughout the show.

  1. For the Lethargarians, students have the option of wearing a bathrobe, and/or pajamas, slippers, or sleep masks on their head over their base costume. Once again, we ask for no writing or modern graphics on the clothing.
  2. For the Vendors, students can wear aprons, and/or vests, and/or newsboy caps.
  3. For the Miners, students can wear dark colored beanie hats and aprons for the Subtraction Stew scene. These aprons can be the same aprons used by the Vendors in the Market scene. No writing or modern graphics on the aprons.

Please note that at school we will be creating additional pieces for Demons, along with making all of the crowns and capes and some other costume pieces.

I would like to see pictures of your children in their costumes by (or even earlier than) April 9. The earlier you can send me these pictures, the better! Send one for each of item on the list above, and one in the base costume, please.

I have also found it helpful in the past to share pictures of the students in their costumes with other parents and students. If you do not want me to share/post pictures of your child, please let me know. These pictures will be posted right here in this entry, as a slideshow, to help inspire others. Here's what we've got so far:


Please email these pictures to me at e.esparza@aidanschool.org

Thank you for all of your support with this!