Streetcar: Bogus Baby Belly

The transformation continues! To play Stella in Theatre Northwest’s upcoming production of A Streetcar Named Desire, I have to be pregnant and blonde… and neither of those are current descriptives I can claim!

For the hair, a wig will do the trick, pinned on tightly and handled with care throughout all the action and costume changes. It’s in the works.

For the second, our costumer, Sarah Mosher, came up with an ingenious contraption to make me look and move like someone who is feasibly 8-9 months pregnant.

It may not sound all that hard: Why not just stuff a pillow up your dress? But have you ever tried that? Have you seen how unrealistic it looks? And then there’s the matter of wearability to consider… it has to be comfortable, invisible under clothes, and easy to get in and out of.

For some reason or other, I’ve actually worn several pregnant bellies on stage and now on camera (something about me must look potentially maternal, I guess). Each belly has been a completely different work of costumer-constructed ingenuity. Straps, ties, zips, Velcro, snaps, a tube top, ruching, cotton batting, shaped foam, a series of a removable pads to “grow” throughout the show… hours have been dedicated to forming the perfect, believable curve and finding a way to keep the whole darn thing from sliding down to my hips.

I’m happy to report that my belly for Streetcar is a veritable work of art — at least from my standpoint… take a look!

StellaBellyShots

As you see, the belly is affixed to a slimmer, like you can buy in any lingerie department. That means that the “belly fat” starts on the sides and continues to the front… more realistic, instead of a basketball out front.

The light, flexible boning in the slimmer base also means the whole belly is supported and won’t slip down an inch. Combine that with the fact that Sarah replaced the dozen or so hooks and eyes with a back zipper, et voila! I’ll be comfortable and fast changes should be a piece of cake.

Now here’s the best part: It’s weighted. This helps the shape of it a lot, and it really affects how I get around on stage. I’m guessing the belly is only about 5 or 6 pounds, but man! It already alters the way I hold myself, bend and walk, or get up and down from chairs.

Hmmm… looking at it, I think I might have lied. The best part is actually the belly button. A vintage brown leather coat button, to be exact. Makes me giggle every time.

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