Beauty and the Beast the Musical’s Associate Costume Designer Janet Hine loves working in the theatre. She’s always been drawn to making theatrical garments because it means she doesn’t need her work to conform to fashion boundaries. The Brisbane-based designer has been making her own clothes since she was in high school. Now she’s crafting some of the most ornate and flamboyant costumes for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast tour in Australia. She takes us behind the scenes on what it’s like bringing the classic tale to life. 

What does being an Associate Costume Designer for Beauty and the Beast entail?

“An Associate Designer has the responsibility of representing the original designer’s costume concepts and choices, so the show looks exactly the same all over the world; no matter which country you see it in. 

“As the Associate Costume Designer, I guide a team of artisans, tailors, milliners and shoemakers to create a high standard of theatrical costumes, considering the choreography required onstage. Once the supervisor hands the show over to the backstage crew, I shift roles for the remainder of the tour and become a critical eye, ensuring the show is kept to the high standard achieved on opening night.

“For this production of Beauty and the Beast, we have a very talented, very experienced backstage costume team that have worked on Disney shows for over 25 years. It makes my job much easier having a team that shares my passion and commitment to the show.”

Shubshri Kandiah and Brendan Xavier. Photo: Daniel Boud
Shubshri Kandiah and Brendan Xavier. Photo: Daniel Boud

What is something that people may not know about working in the costume department for a production such as Beauty and the Beast?

“I’m often asked if the costumes come from overseas, however in most productions in Australia we make the costumes here. The original costume team for Beauty and the Beast sampled over 4000 fabrics and 2000 trims to get the exact right look for each character, especially to create the feel of the Tavern and Village scenes. And because many of the vintage fabrics used are not easily replaced, we actually had to rework these costumes for this Australian cast.

“Behind-the-scenes, once we measure the cast, the costume team creates toile outfits often made from calico as a ‘pretend costume’. We then fit this on each actor, checking if they have the movement required for their particular choreography. Once the correct fit and look is established, it’s time to get the party started and cut the real fabric!

“People also may not know that the costume department has a really close relationship with the cast, as we discuss their personal insecurities and work together with them to make them as comfortable as possible onstage. Then all they need to do onstage is remember their lines and choreography!”

Janet Hine headshot
Associate Costume Designer Janet Hine.

How many costumes are in Beauty and the Beast? How do you keep track of them all?

“There are 300 different costumes in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! We keep very efficient lists and visual plots showing us what each character wears and how it should look onstage. The correct accessories, hats and shoes must be worn with the right costume, so these lists are shared with the backstage dressers who look after the costumes for eight shows each week! 

“Theatre is such a team sport, which is why I have so much love for building the story for each show through the costuming. Costumes assist the cast in finding their characters, and help to convey the story to the audience. I think I speak for everyone who works in costume when I say we feel very privileged to be an integral part of this team sport.”

What are your favourite shows you’ve worked on?

“I’m most passionate and invested in shows that have a certain theatricality and are challenging to create. I absolutely live for crystals and feathers, so give me any show that sparkles! That’s why Disney shows are among my favourites; Aladdin had crystals in every scene, and Frozen the Musical’s Let It Go moment was a showstopper. Beauty and the Beast is an iconic story with fabulous onstage transformations that Disney is famous for, and of course  there is plenty of sparkle in Belle’s beautiful yellow dress! Other favourites that I’ve worked on are Hairspray, Chicago, We Will Rock You and Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Gareth Jacobs Hayley Martin Shubshri Kandiah Rohan Browne and the company of Disneys Beauty and The Beast the Musical performing Be Our Guest Photo by Daniel Boud
There are 300 different constumes in Beauty and the Beast! Photo: Daniel Boud

What is your favourite costume in Beauty and the Beast?

“I think I gave it away saying how much I love Belle’s yellow dress, however I do adore Babette’s costumes as well—the silhouette and details are beautiful. The design detail of ombre diamonds on the costume—which is worn beautifully by our very talented Hayley Martin—was originally made by hand, which is incredible! I’m dreading the day those costumes wear out and we might have to make a new one.

“I must also mention the new Lumiere gold costume, which was created in Australia especially for Rohan Browne. The costume was so difficult to create; Leonie Grace of Sydney Costume Workshop created samples using several methods to allow the movement Lumiere needs on-stage. The end result is fantastic and stands up against Cogsworth’s brilliant clock outfit, which is also a masterpiece. As you can tell, it is very hard for me to choose a favourite!

Beauty and the Beast the Musical booking details

Tickets are on sale now for performances through to 9 June 2024, exclusively here. 

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has added extra midweek matinee performances on Thursdays and Fridays during the April holidays. The 4-ticket buy offer, where guests can save $20 per ticket, has also been extended for the holidays and is available for all midweek matinees, midweek evening and Sunday evening performance between 2 – 14 April.

New Relaxed Performance announced! Beauty and the Beast’s relaxed performance on Saturday 11th May at 1:30pm is in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and Autism Queensland. A relaxed performance encourages the audience to be completely themselves during the performance; to make sounds, move around, fidget or use noise cancelling headphones. A short pre-show welcome will be hosted by Emma Watkins (The Wiggles, Emma Memma). She will introduce the audience to certain characters and stage effects that may be unpredictable or sensorially significant in advance.

Elizabeth Best

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