April 13, 2022

A look at the wigs, wardrobe, and sets of The Magic Victrola



The Magic Victrola is a story of two young children, Gracie and Sam, who go to their Grandpa’s house for summer vacation. When they discover an old victrola — a phonograph used to play vinyl records — in his attic, they are shocked when his prized collection of opera albums comes to life before their eyes. It is a story of magic and whimsy, but it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make that magic possible.

Gracie and Sam played by Caroline Heffernan and Logan Neuschaefer in Lyric's 2015 production of The Magic Victrola

While it takes an entire team to put on a show of any scale, Scott Marr, scenic and costume designer for The Magic Victrola, says that from the moment the production premiered at Lyric in January of 2015, there have been onoing collaborative efforts across all departments to keep this show light, fun, and up-to-date.

Take, for example, the set: the majority of the opera takes place in Grandpa’s attic. The space has a more muted design in order to let the operatic pieces shine. There are, however, several nods to Lyric’s history that you might not notice at first glace. “For the Gianni Schicchi aria, the poster on the set is a reproduction of Lyric’s 1958 production starring Tito Gobbi,” said Marr. “Tito Gobbi sang 21 roles at Lyric from 1954-1982, and was also a hero of former General Director Bill Mason.”

Ryan Opera Center alumna Laura Wilde as Lauretta from Gianni Schicchi and Richard Henzel as Grandfather in Lyric's 2015 production of The Magic Victrola

This is not the only way that Lyric’s history is brought back to life in this production. According to Marr, “the dress worn by Ms. Malfatti when she sings Lauretta’s iconic aria, “O mio babbino caro,” dates back over 30 years. “I wanted to portray this sense of history and the look is fitting for the music.” Similarly, the costumes worn by the Three Ladies were originally from Lyric’s beloved 1986 production of The Magic Flute. Marr stated that, "there’s something fun about taking an older costume, and creating something new, while still respecting its history."

There are plenty of modern additions to the show as well, to keep it entertaining for a younger audience. Designers have been taking their inspiration from seeing what people wear on the street every day, and even admitted to modeling Olympia, the mechanical Doll from Tales of Hoffmann, after Ariana Grande. Once these ideas have been decided upon, the sketches and concept drawings are then shared with the wig and wardrobe departments to realize and finalize the looks.

Scenic and Costumer Designer Scott Marr's set designs and inspiration from Lyric's 2015 production of The Magic Victrola.

All of the wigs you see onstage are handmade and styled in Lyric’s wig shop. Some take longer than others — depending on the desired look — but most range between 40-120 hours of hand work to make a full wig. With 13 wigs in the show, you can imagine how many weeks it took to finish them all.

Now, we can’t talk about the design of this show without mentioning the dragon. When asked about why they chose a large inflatable dragon, the answer was simple for Maria DeFabo Akin, Lyric’s properties and scenic design director. “It's fun!” said Akin. “It was a design decision. At the time of the first Magic Victrola, we were gearing up for Lyric's full Ring Cycle. We knew inflatables would be a large part of the design for the Ring, so we wanted a chance to try it out.” Between a giant inflatable dragon, fog machines, trap doors, and much more, The Magic Victrola truly has a full theater experience packed into a compact running time.

For more fun with The Magic Victrola, listen to our Spotify playlist crafted with these recognizable pieces to get ready for the show on Sunday, April 24!

April 24, 2022

The Magic Victrola

The Magic Victrola

An original opera experience for kids aged 5 to 10

Tickets are just $5 for children and $10 for adults.

Running Time: Approximately 70 minutes, no intermission
Location: Lyric Opera House

Header photo: Sam is off on an adventure in the 2014 Magic Victrola. Credit: Todd Rosenberg