BTS with the Costume Maker of Aladdin

It’s undoubtably one of the most iconic theatre productions to date, but beyond the incredibly talented actors, singers and dancers of Disney’s Aladdin, the costume and set design are what steal the show and bring the production to life. Australian costume designer, Janet Hines is no stranger to major international and national projects. Having worked across the film and television industry, dressing numerous personalities from A-list celebrities to prime ministers and presidents world-over, we chat with Janet and dive into the creative and colourful world of costume design.

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What was the most difficult costume to make and why?
Most costumes were complicated because of the layers of embroidery and beading but Jasmine had another degree of difficulty as it’s so fitted and the artwork is changed for each actresses’ body shape.

What was your favourite and why?
I love the Sultan outfit as I’m a huge crystal fan. I also love the incredible colours of the market place outfits.

How long have you been a costume designer for?
I’ve been a Costume Supervisor for 25 years and a designer for 15.

How did it feel to be part of such an iconic production?
It was a dream to work on Aladdin as Disney value production detail which shows on stage and I’m a huge fan of Arabic design detail which inspired the creative for Aladdin.

Genie (Gareth Jacobs) with attendants_Photo by Jeff Busby

Each costume is so intricate and detailed. How long does it take to create and complete a costume?
Complete costumes for Aladdin took between two to six weeks each.

What has been the most rewarding part of working on Disney’s Aladdin?
Appreciating the results of months of my teams hard work, seeing all the finished costumes onstage was the most rewarding moment.  This show is so joyous and upbeat to watch so the audience leave the show buzzing which always makes my experience better.

Which characters are the easiest to dress?
The principals are easier than the ensemble in Aladdin as they have less costume changes.

Jasmine (Shubshri Kandiah)_Photo by James Green

Malfunctions and wear and tear can occur during the performance. What’s the process of repairing pieces in a short time frame? Is it stressful? 
Darryl, our head of costume is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the shows costumes – he relies on an experienced team to assist in this mammoth task. It’s stressful when it happens during the show and he always has a backup plan!

How many duplicates do you have to make for understudies?
Most roles have two understudies.

When does the design/creation process begin for such a large-scale production? Do you often work on more than one production at a time?
Shows of this size are usually in pre production for several years . Sometimes I work on several shows at once but it depends what stage they are at if this is possible. There are segments where it’s necessary to be 100% focused on one show.

Aladdin (Graeme Isaako) and Jasmine (Shubshri Kandiah) Wedding. Photo by James Green

The list of celebrities you have dressed include big names such as Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton-John and Gwen Stefani. Have you ever been star struck? Who has been your favourite person to dress and why?
I’ve had to dress 22 of the worlds prime ministers and presidents which was surreal.

Quick Fire Questions

Favourite character from Disney’s Aladdin? IAGO
Favourite song from the production? Friend like me.
When I’m not costume designing, you’ll find me… taking photos on my travels.
Sequin, Satin or Chiffon? Sequin!  I love a sparkle.
After a show, I relax by…. planning my next holiday!

Catch the magic of Agrabah at the Festival Theatre from now until June 9. For tickets, click here.