STREEPSHOW! is the sorta true story of nine Meryl Streep characters, picked to live in a house, work together...and you know the drill. Jay Stull’s ingenious four part play is fodder for fans of the Meryl who get to bask in famous moments from her films, delightful line deliveries and inside jokes that ought to please even the snobbiest connoisseur of la Streep. A big part of the show’s success is owed to the costumes, wigs and make-up designed by Daniel Dabdoub. I spoke to him about the ideas and elements that shaped five of the characters in the play, and couldn’t help but go into a rabbit hole of all things Meryl. We both think her performance in The Hours is her best work (he fell in love with her in that movie), and while we disagreed on her red carpet looks (I don’t think she’s the best dresser, he thinks that no matter what she wears her confidence and humor make her the coolest person in the room), our conversation proved to be a good old time.
Francesca from The Bridges of Madison County played by Kristine Haruna Lee
Favorite moment in the movie: That moment when she’s having her photograph taken by the bridge and finally feels beautiful. In the show she’s very fixated on Robert and that moment.
Key element to unlocking the look of the character: Once the wig came on, we knew what kind of character she was. In the play she also has cleaning gloves which she doesn’t have in the movie, so once those were on the character came to the forefront.
Most challenging part about creating the look: In the three years we’ve been doing the show, three different women have played her, so it’s been about fitting the costume to the actress.
What other Meryl Character Reminds you of Her: Sophie from Sophie’s Choice, their need to change their lives is...the stakes are very high for both of them.
What Musical Would You Like to Have this Character Star In: She has to play Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County musical naturally.
Mary Fisher from She-Devil played by Joe Castle Baker
Favorite moment in the movie: I really like how fragile she is, she seems to have everything put together, but at the quickest turn of a dime she becomes a mess. I love that because Meryl Streep is always so well put together.
Key element to unlocking the look of the character: Joe was one of the first actors who brought heels to rehearsal, he brought pink heels. He’s a very tall guy already, he’s like 6’3, so when he put on his heels he towered a foot over everyone else, so he became larger than life matching Meryl’s performance in the film.
Most challenging part about creating the look: It was also the fun part, we wanted to give her the most over the top costume, she gets the most costume changes. She’s one of the characters people don’t remember as much, but she’s so wacky.
What other Meryl Character Reminds you of Her: She reminds me a little bit of Madeline Ashton, they’re both rich, crazy women.
What Musical Would You Like to Have this Character Star In: Gypsy or Legally Blonde.
Suzanne Vale from Postcards from the Edge played by Sam Bolen
Favorite moment in the movie: Not just a moment, but I love that Meryl is so grounded and big in the film. I love that scene in the staircase when she’s yelling at her mom about the party where she lifted her skirt. That scene is a master class in acting choices, she makes all the right choices in the shortest amount of time possible. Our actor in the show does that monologue and it’s pure camp art.
Key element to unlocking the look of the character: Her cop uniform. It was really about finding a way to feminize the uniform cause she’s played by a man.
Most challenging part about creating the look: Feminizing the least feminine outfit. She’s wearing pants and a uniform.
What other Meryl Character Reminds you of Her: Maybe Suzanne grew up to be Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!
What Musical Would You Like to Have this Character Star In: Mamma Mia!
Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada played by Preston Martin
Favorite moment in the movie: The most iconic moment is the cerulean monologue. But for me the most show stopping scene is when she breaks down the character, with no makeup on and we see who the character really is.
Key element to unlocking the look of the character: Hers was one of the makeup looks that was most important. Once you figure out the Meryl makeup and you put The Devil Wears Prada face on the actor it makes all the difference, because in that movie she is wearing makeup and she looks very put together. The actor feels her essence with the makeup on.
Most challenging part about creating the look: The makeup as well.
What other Meryl Character Reminds you of Her: Maybe The Iron Lady. Powerful women who don’t take no for an answer.
What Musical Would You Like to Have this Character Star In: Anything Patti LuPone has ever played?
Clarissa Vaughn from The Hours played by Claire Rothrock
Favorite moment in the movie: All those scenes she has with Ed Harris’ character. How she struggles to help him through things without enabling him, that struggle is such good acting.
Key element to unlocking the look of the character: You will never believe this, but Claire owns the coat and scarf! So I found the mom jeans and the turtleneck, but the coat is iconic, when Claire brought it in, it was done, she was Clarissa.
Most challenging part about creating the look: It wasn’t challenging at all, Claire does such a spectacular job that you see her and can’t believe it’s not Meryl. When you see Meryl in The Hours you think it’s naturalistic, but when you see another actor playing Meryl as Clarissa you realize how Meryl-y that performance is.
What other Meryl Character Reminds you of Her: The show connects Joanna from Kramer Vs. Kramer and Clarissa in a very funny way. You’ll see what I mean.
What Musical Would You Like to Have this Character Star In: She’d be in Fun Home just because she would really be into that.
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