THE MASQUERADE DUMMIES





When we first get a glimpse of the grand Palais Garnier staircase in Masquerade, only half of the cast is dancing and moving about. The rest is watching from each side of the stairs. These are the dummies - dummies dressed in wonderfully intricate costumes, often echoing those of the actual cast. Some very few of these are crossovers, I.E. used by cast members in some productions, and by dummies in other productions. The Matador is one of these. The Las Vegas production also has more dummies than what Maria Bjørnson designed. These additional dummies were designed especially for Vegas by Sue Willmington, which was Bjørnson's "right hand" for many years. Among these characters we find the Bee Woman and Napoleon, and also a colourful female dummy with bisquit skirt, fruit and icecream.

An interesting detail about the staircase dummies is that many illude animals. We have the Ox, the Golden Lion Man, the Snake Woman, the Rooster, the Eagle etc. The other half have a hint of devil or death in them - the skeleton in the upper staircase, Lon Chaney's twisted face, Mephistopheles etc. It seems like Maria Bjørnson wanted to underline the animalic and diabolic undertones of the Masquerade. It's also what Hal Prince wanted to add to the scene, or actually to the show in general: "From the first day of rehearsal, [maintaining a sense of menace throughout the show] was the first thing I addressed with the whole company. We were in a rehearsal hall in Lambeth, across the Thames, and I said, "This whole play is designed to keep the audience always, always on the alert, and you must contribute to that." (Playbill.com on September 30, 2011).

A third element is that the dummies often echoes the costumes ensemble members wears. Mefisto reminds of Red Death, The Bajazzo is echoed by the "Scary Clown", the Mob Cap girl has her pendant in the Gaulouise, the Shepherdess in the Rococo lady and so on. It helps blurring out the lines of who is real and not.

Each production have their own ways of displaying the dummies. My description of where they are usually displayed may therefore not match each production entirely. But it gives a clue of where to typically look for the various characters. Also, when I wrote above that the dummies don't move, it wasn't entirely true. They are designed to move slightly when the cast interacts with them and dance in the staircase. The intricate details of their costumes emphasize their movements. But they don't exactly dance around, as the live cast do… A last aspect of the dummies is that they form a sort of safety barriere, so the actual cast members don't step too close to the edge and fall off the stairs. Each of the designs for the dummies carries a D (for "dummies") and a number.




D-1: THE FEATHER HAT MAN
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This figure is placed in the upper half of the staircase, sitting on the balustrade along with a young girl in red dress.



D-2: THE SKELETON
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This figure is placed in the upper half of the staircase, appearing behind the two sitting on the balustrade. This costume seems to echo what the manager André wears.



D-3: THE RED DRESS GIRL
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This figure is placed in the upper half of the staircase, sitting on the balustrade along with a man with a feather hat.



D-7: THE SNAKE WOMAN


The Snake Woman has the shape of a woman, with a headwear showing a golden snake. She wears a corseted bodice with shoulder decorations forming small sleeves. The scalloped shape of these shoulder decorations is repeated in the skirt, with big scallops on top and smaller ones downward the skirt. She also wears tights and high-heeled boots. On her head she has a head garb with a golden snake entwining upwards. Underneath she wears a red wig and a half mask, and she also wears long, black gloves. The colour scale is purples, blacks and gold. She is usually placed on the left side in the staircase.



D-8: THE WILD BOAR

The Wild Boar continues the animalistic theme of the Golden Lion and the Golden Ox, featuring a Wild Boar head on a human body. He wears a tight fitting doublet and puffed breeches. The doublet have long sleeves puffed on top, and there are chevron decorations with pompons on the front doublet. The upper sleeves and the breeches are paned. A large white collar is worn around the neck, sometimes this has pompons too. He also wears tan tights and high boots. On his head a tricorn hat is worn, often with a row of rich white feathers on top. He's both seen in the lower left side of the staircase and the upper right side, it depends on the production. The costume design specifies: "Mask black shine finish. Yellow harlequin. Bit of wig at back".



D-9: THE ORIENTAL LADY


Also known as Turban Lady. She wears a dress with corseted bodice and wide, short skirt. Underneath she wears bloomers gathered at the ankles, and she also wears white stockings and golden shoes. The skirt has floral decorations, while the bodice has vertical bands and flowers in the frilly neck opening. The sleeves are elbow length and ends in wide lace engageants. Some versions shows the lady wearing gloves, some don't. But she always wears a large turban with feathers, and a drape in front of her nose and face, only revealing her eyes. She's usually seen to the left in the staircase. For the Vegas production an ensemble costume over this theme was made. That costume later made it into the Broadway production as well. Costume design specifies: "Feathers, jewels, turban, veil to be chosen with costume. Face: porcelain. Body: couldron. Mould for mask D5, both looking down. Long eyelashes".



D-10: THE SHEPHERDESS (BO PEEP)


The Shepherdess (Bo Peep) is dressed in Rococo style, more or less a Polonaise dress. It usually features a tabbed, corseted bodice with lacing in front, and a long skirt with drapes. She wears a fluffy wih with a large straw hat on top, and she's usually seen carrying a shepherd stick. She also wears a black domino mask. The colours varies, but it usually includes a yellow or tan dress with black details. She can be found in the middle or upper right side of the staircase, though she seems to be placed in upper left corner in Vegas. Costume design specifies: "Pale porcelain face, Victorian. White see through + gold trim, velvet veil (?), Black lacquer mask"



D-11: COLUMBINE (ROCOCO LADY)
A Rococo dressed female figure. Costume design specifies: "Columbine. Feathers + gold + beads (…) Green wig. Blue lamé mask to match costume. Extended lash".



D-12: AFRICAN MAN
A male dummy featuring a Victorian stereotypical view of an African man, dressed in various leaf garments and jewelry. Costume design specifies: "No wig necessary. Headdress all the way round. Brass shine painted between green. (…) If too dangerous not REAL article but visual substitute".



D-15: THE HIGHLANDER


The Highlander wears a doublet with frog fastening. Overneath he wears a wrap-around jacket with puffed sleeves over long sleeves with stripes in green, red and golden shades. The jacket is skirted, and the stripes of the sleeves are repeated in the skirt. Under the skirt he wears breeches echoing the colours of the sleeves, and they are tied around the knee. He also wears white stockings and red shoes. On the head a beret decorated with feathers, and a half mask. He is bearded, and a large knife can be seen hanging from his waist. The design writes he is "to look like a Shakespearian Macbeth". Therefore this highlander is not seen wearing kilt, as that is a later invention. Instead he wears clothes from the late English Renaissance. Though a dummy costume, it was worn by a real actor in the Royal Albert Hall 25th anniversary concert.



D-20: THE "MOB CAP" GIRL


The "mob cap" was a caul with pleated or lace trimmed brim, often with a ribbon around the pull. It was in use for most of the 18th century, but because it was used by bourgeois women during the French revolution it became a symbol of women of the people. I don't know if Maria Bjørnson simply referred to the common name of the head garb, or if she meant this character to be a French revolution girl. Seeing how the dummies often echoes the real people in Masquerade, and seeing how a Gaulouise figure is used by the ensemble, the latter seems probable. The "mob cap" costume consists of of a red, knee-length dress with a ruffled hem and a similarly ruffled shoulder area. There's also an underskirt of rich white lace. She wears black boots, and a stripy red/blue apron, and on the head she does of course wear the "mob cap" as well as a black mask. Her colours echoues the French tricolore. The costume design has a note on the original fabric used for the apron: "Too strong, spray down to kill colour".



THE GOLDEN LION


The Golden Lion has a man's body and a golden lion's head. The head is beautifully sculptured, usually in a synthetic material. The hands (gloves) and feet (shoes) are also made of wood and painted. He wears a black tailcoat - some are of wool, some of more glittering fabrics - and a white or shiny shirt underneath. The shirt has ruffles with black details, and he also wears ornamental studs and a white bow tie. Over the shirt he wears a low-cut waistcoat of a glittering brocade. And as mentioned he has black painted shoes and white painted gloves. He seems to take a bow to someone. He is usually placed in the lower half of the staircase, to the left.



THE OX MAN


The Ox Man reminds of the Golden Lion, but the biggest difference is that he wears the head of an ox instead. It's usually not golden, as the lion head is, and it's of course sculpted as an ox with horns. He too wears a black tailcoat with white, fringed shirt and a brocaded waistcoat. He wears a white bowtie in the neck, and ornamental studs in front. He's often also seen with a cane. He is usually seen in the left side of the staircase, behind the Golden Lion.



THE GOLDEN EAGLE


The Golden Eagle is probably the largest of the Masquerade characters, both of the dummies and of the actual cast. The body is dressed in a bodice with wide shorts incorporated. A large belt is added in the waist. Underneath tan tights is wore, with a zig-zag decorations around the ankles. The head is that of an eagle, golden, with ornamental beak and eyes. But the most eye catching part of the costume is the large, golden wings. In the original production and those who followed, the wings were attached to the gloved arms, while newer productions makes the wings bigger and separated from the arms. The Golden Eagle is usually, because of the size, placed in the very top of the staircase, next to where Red Death first appears. This was the only dummy featured in George Perry's "Complete Phantom" book, and the costume there appears more colourful than later versions have been.



THE ROOSTER


The Rooster originally had a more furry body, as the first picture shows. But soon this was replaced by layers of scalloped pieces of fabric in various red, orange and brown nuances, to create a more ornamental and glittering surface. These scallops are illuding feathers. The arms are left bare, while there's yellow tights on the legs. The head is sculpted as a rooster, with wonderful details. The main colours are red and gold. In the back a large feather "tail" is attached, and he wears black, flat shoes. The Rooster can usually be seen on the left side of the staircase, a bit up, though I think the Vegas production keep him on the right side.



THE GOLDEN MASK WOMAN
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Also referred to as "Feather Lady", same as an actual cast member costume. The costume of this dummy reminds of the Fan Lady, with a crinoline knee-length skirt covered in feathers, with bloomers underneath, and with a corseted bodice. But in addition she wears a wonderfully detailed golden mask, hold in one hand, in front of her face. The mask had a sculpted face with half-closed eyes. On top is sculpted hair with a tiara on top. This tiara also reminds of what the Fan Lady wears. The placement of the Golden Mask Lady varies a lot, but an overweight of the productions seems to place her to the right in the staircase.



LON CHANEY


Much of the original "Phantom of the Opera" movie with Lon Chaney was brought into the stage production. The Red Death costume is more or less a direct copy, for example. Less knows is the "Lon Chaney" dummy in the staircase. Though with exaggerated features and with a red face, the overall look is still recognizable. The red face is crowned with wild black hair. He wears a black suit with a white frilly shirt and a tan waistcoat. He also wears a cloak. He is usually seen in the right side of the staircase, sometimes in the lower half, sometimes in the upper half. But some productions also place him on the lower left side.



MEPHISTOPHELES


Mephistopheles is the demon figure from the Faust legend, and a well known figure as the 19th century costume design by Franz Gaul (last picture) shows. He is the Devil's representative, and bargains with Faust for his soul. As Faust was one of the key stories Gaston Leroux incorporated into his own "Phantom of the Opera", featuring Mephistopheles into the Masquerade is a nice nod of Maria Bjørnson. He can furthermore also be seen in some stills from cut scenes of the Lon Chaney movie, in one of the mock operas. He wears a crimson doublet and breeches echoing that we see Red Death wearing later in the scene. He also wears a short cloak, and features elaborate lace cuffs. His face has detailed mustache and beard, in the style of the 17th century, and he also has nicely shaped eyebrows. On his head he wears a crimson feather decoration. He is usually placed in the lower left of the grand staircase.



BACCHUS


Bacchus. The only reference I've seen to this is someone taking a backstage tour being told this green man was Bacchus, Antique God of wine and grape harvest. Some also calls him Lizard, due to the colours and the headgear. He wears a green doublet and breeches covered with leaves. On his feet he wears green stockings and golden, flat shoes, and on his head he wears a green and golden mask with a golden "crown" in the shape of an animal. He is usually placed in the lower right of the grand staircase.



THE HARLEQUIN WOMAN


I have no idea what this costume is called within the Phantom world. I simply named her after then Harlequin squares in her dress. She wears a dress made entirely of Harlequin squares, with some open fields to reveal the bloomers underneath. The sleeves are elbow length, with lace engageants. She also wears black high-heeled boots with an open field in front, a black choker, a black belt and a Rococo styled powdered wig with feathers. She also wears a black domino mask, and holds her arms open as to greet someone. The colour scheme is green, black, white and purple. She is usually seen in the right side of the staircase, sometimes far down, sometimes further up.



BAJAZZO (THE CLOWN)


The Bajazzo is a classical Italian pantomime figure, usually shown in Rococo inspired costume. The Bajazzo in Phantom wears a white suit with black pattern. The suit consists of wide floorlength pants with an equally wide jacket. The jacket has mock closing in front, with giant large black buttons. He also wears a fluffy "ruff" around his neck, and a black hat. His face has classical "Bajazzo" makeup, with a white face and dark lips and painted eyes. Some also have painted red cheeks. Though not similar in colours, this costume echoes the Scary Clown costume worn by one of the cast members in Masquerade. The Bajazzo is usually seen in the lower right side of the staircase.



NAPOLEON
A Vegas specific dummy, based on Napoleon.



THE BEE WOMAN


This costume is not Maria Bjørnson's design. It was designed by her "right hand" Sue Willmington, who made additional sketches for the Las Vegas production, both for Masquerade and for the dummy audience in the fake boxes. The Bee Lady wears a stripy yellow and black bodice, and a matching bustle skirt drape. Underneath she wears black bloomers. Both bodice, drape and bloomers have a nice pleated trim. The bodice have elbow length sleeves. She also wears black high-heeled boots, a black mask with antennas, and a black and yellow choker. The design also suggests wings, but they're not too visible on the dummy.



THE MATADOR
Usually worn by a cast member, this has also appeared as a dummy costume in some productions.