While it can be argued that costume designer Tracy Christensen isn’t quite privy to the byzantine nature of the fashion industry, MasterVoices’ “Lady in the Dark” proves she can intuit its tortured psyche. With a little assist from Vogue’s own international editor-at-large Hamish Bowles and marquee brands Zac Posen, Thom Browne, Marchesa, and Brooks Brothers, Ms. Christensen adeptly simulates the milieu to within reasonable authenticity while deftly fulfilling multiple creative and practical considerations. After all, she couldn’t very well just employ dresses sampled for statuesque models and expect them to work on women with curvier frames, or for that matter, allow unfettered movement for the dancers.
From a book by Moss Hart, music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and originally staged on Broadway in 1941, the musical centers on a glossy’s editor-in-chief whose life takes a spiral at a critical moment she is faced with decisions about romance and the next issue’s cover. Despite the source material’s inescapably dated details, Ms. Christensen places the proceedings in a somewhat timeless plane. Victoria Clark, who plays the titular character, alternately shines and dazzles in tasteful boss lady suits by day and ravishing gowns in the dream sequences. Without a doubt the pièce de résistance was meant to be the evening dress Zac Posen reportedly custom created for this production. And indeed it is a breathtaking sparkler of a confection. But Ms. Christensen served the best for last, conveying the surreal interior of dreams and fashion with richly textured and spectacularly proportioned coats by Thom Browne. And ultimately, it is this proficiency in establishing thematic, character, and story cues in costume that has built Ms. Christensen’s enviable career and embellished it with multiple awards and a portfolio that includes Carousel with Alfie Boe, Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson, and Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close.
This show, which also featured the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, marked the conclusion of MasterVoices’ season and was directed and conducted by its artistic director Ted Sperling, with new choreography by Doug Varone. Founded as The Collegiate Chorale in 1941, MasterVoices stages choral masterpieces, operas in concert, and musical theater with programs that have included Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon. MasterVoices has performed in prominent New York City concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, New York City Center, and Geffen Hall, under the batons of many esteemed conductors, including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Alan Gilbert.