Over-the-top costumes all in a day's work for suburban star
Christy Faber never dreamed that one day she would get to appear onstage dressed up as Elvis Presley — or as a sparkly super-size pink paintbrush.
But nothing seems to faze Faber, who grew up in Algonquin and Glencoe, in terms of over-the-top costuming now that she's touring in the 2011 Broadway show "Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical." The show plays the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University from Tuesday, March 19, to Saturday, March 30.
"Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical"
Location: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (also March 24); 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (also March 27). Runs Tuesday, March 19, through Saturday, March 30.
"The costumes are a character all in themselves," said Faber, gushing with praise for the more than 500 outfits created by the Tony Award-winning team of Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, who also won the Academy Award for their designs for the original 1994 film "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." "There is not enough sequins, feathers, rhinestones, boas — it's fantastic and fabulous."
In "Priscilla," Faber plays the featured role of Marion, the slightly mysterious woman who books a trio of Sydney-based "female illusionists" for a performance gig at a casino in Alice Springs, Australia. But since Marion's main dramatic scenes are largely late in the second act, the rest of Faber's time in the show is in multiple guises as an ensemble member.
In total, Faber wears eight different costumes with nine outfit changes — the quickest and most difficult one coming at the end of Act I when she has to appear fully decked out in a Scottish kilt ensemble with laced-up Highland dancing shoes. And even when Faber is offstage changing, she's performing since many of the ensemble women sing backup to a trio of omnipresent "Divas" who actually vocalize the pop hits that are lip-synced by the show's leading trio of drag queens.
Faber is also a Diva understudy, which means that she's had to have "flying" rehearsals since the Divas float overhead at key points in the show.
"I've never flown before," said Faber. "I'm looking forward to it."
Faber traces her performing roots back to the age of 5 when she appeared as Gretel in a production of "The Sound of Music" at the Woodstock Opera House. Faber also had prominent roles in New Trier High School productions of "Me and My Girl" and "On the Town," later getting a degree in musical theater from the University of Michigan and starting her New York-based career as a theater actress in 2002.
In addition to meeting with hometown friends and family, Faber plans on meeting with New Trier students to talk about her career, which includes appearing in the 2007 Broadway revival of "Les Miserables" and the off-Broadway company of "The Marvelous Wonderettes."
David Ladd, the department chair of music and musical director at New Trier, first worked with Faber her junior year and was impressed by her talent.
"Wow, this kid is already a pro," said Ladd, remembering Faber's strong performance skills and happy that she's taking time as an alumna to return and talk about her acting career. "(The students) ask all the questions we (as faculty) always answer, but when it comes from somebody else who was once in their position, it always has a little more impact."
Since "Priscilla" is Faber's first national tour, she's looking forward to connecting with friends and family all across the country. Faber has gotten used to the rigors of travel, saying that she now can finish packing within 10 minutes.
Performing in "Priscilla" is also a workout. "Our choreographer told us that you're going to be really tired after the show, and you should be because it's just really a high-energy-give-110-percent show," she said.
Yet Faber is happy about the opportunities that "Priscilla" has provided her. "There are many things in this show that I've never done before."
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