Q/A Tony Award Nominee: “Something Rotten” Costume Designer Gregg Barnes

Costume designer extraordinaire Gregg Barnes is nominated for a Tony Award for his Renaissance-inspired designs featured in “Something Rotten.” We talked to the designer about his highlights from the show and his plans for the night of the Tony’s.

What was your favorite footwear moment from the show?
“I’d have to say that my favorite footwear moment happens at the end of the first Act.  The Renaissance Writers…7 of them…enter in a tap version of the boots that they have been wearing the rest of the Act.  It takes you by surprise to see these elegant fops tap dancing and introduces the rest of the company in Elizabethan finery also tapping.  It is joyous and anachronistic and something I’ve never seen on Broadway.”

What was your biggest shoe challenge in the show?
“Shoes are always a challenge.  The fit, the function and the aesthetic are tricky to get in balance.  It usually takes one assistant full time to take charge of the shoes in a musical.  Shopping the leathers, attending the endless fittings, working with the artists who make the shoes are all part of that job.  One unusual challenge was making it possible for Brian d’Arcy James and Christian Borle to have a “slip-cover” on their tap boots so that they can maneuver the stage without slipping until the moment they tap.  We tried several things and it turned out that a simple over shoe created for rain wear by Totes (and painted by us) worked like a charm.”

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How many shoes are in the show?
“There are 95 pairs of men’s boots and 30 pairs of women’s shoes.  Everything is custom made except for 2 pairs of men’s formal pumps purchased from Brooks Brothers that help us out in a super quick fast change.”

Do you know what you’re wearing to the Tonys yet?
“On my feet?  Something comfortable.  I’d better get shopping.”

See our earlier conversation with Barnes about the show here.

Costume Designs From "Something Rotten"
Costume Designs From “Something Rotten”
CREDIT: Something Rotten
Costume Designs From "Something Rotten"
Costume Designs From “Something Rotten”
CREDIT: Something Rotten

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