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Dressing Hedwig

ae hedwig1Two Santa Cruz teenage friends reunite under the bright lights of Broadway 

When Arianne Phillips and Valerie Marcus Ramshur were teenage friends in Santa Cruz, they spent their days cutting and re-sewing clothing bought from weekend trips to the Bargain Barn. Now, 30 years later, the duo is still designing clothes, but their skills are on display on a much larger stage—Broadway.

As the costume designer and associate costume designer, respectively, for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Phillips and Marcus Ramshur are taking the style notes they gleaned from the early ’80s Santa Cruz New Wave scene and using them to bring to life the story of a transsexual punk rocker from East Berlin who flees to the United States in search of stardom. Neil Patrick Harris will play Hedwig in the stage adaptation of the cult classic book by John Cameron Mitchell, which opens April 22 on Broadway.

For Phillips and Marcus Ramshur, growing up in Santa Cruz proved to be highly appropriate training for this production. “The message of Hedwig is the same as the lifestyle that Santa Cruz really encourages, which is be yourself,” says Phillips.

“People come to Santa Cruz to find who they are as human beings and artists and citizens of the world, and this piece is very much like that as well,” adds Marcus Ramshur.

Phillips attended Santa Cruz High while Marcus Ramshur was a student at Capitola Junior High. After high school, they went their separate ways, both independently pursuing career paths in the realm of theater, film, fashion and music.

Marcus Ramshur has worked on more than 12 Broadway productions, and Phillips’ resume includes two Academy Awards nominations, a British Academy of Film and Television award, and a 17-year collaboration with Madonna.

Phillips, who worked on the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2001, was asked to reprise her role as costume designer for the Broadway premiere. It had been 30 years since Phillips and Marcus Ramshur were in the same room together, but they reconnected when Phillips reached out via social media.

“When I got the call, the first person I thought of was Valerie,” Phillips explains. “I’ve never worked on a Broadway production, which has its own process and protocol. It was clear I was going to need someone to help shepherd me though the process as well as someone to rely on to get the show up and running. To have the opportunity to reunite with her after 30 years and as professional adults was super exciting.”

Since that call, Marcus Ramshur and Phillips have rekindled their friendship as professionals, working together to create visual magic onstage.

Though they are based on separate coasts, the Santa Cruz ties remain strong. Both maintain they couldn’t have gotten to Broadway without the creative nurturing they got from Santa Cruz. “Growing up in Santa Cruz as kids we were allowed and encouraged to be as creative and unique as possible. We got shot out into the world and we realized we had been exposed to art, artists and free-thinking political debate,” says Phillips.

“Hedwig is just a very magical piece,” says Marcus Ramshur, “and Santa Cruz was a very magical place to grow up.” 

Comments (1)Add Comment
Real Journalists Get the Basic Facts Right!
written by Eric Sasaman, April 10, 2014
I'm not sure why the simplest of details manages to get all jacked up, especially when they are decades old. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not based on a book. It began life as an Off-Broadway cult hit musical. The text (which in musical theater is called "the book") is by John Cameron Mitchell, and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. This mistake is sloppy. The use of the word "book" for the unsung portion of a musical's script is almost as old as the medium itself and one would think that if handed a story about a genre that a writer has only slight knowledge of then that writer might want to do just a bit of homework. One would think. It's just sloppy.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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