Need help dressing for Gatsby at the Gate Theatre?
Tara Flynn and Carl Austin put on their glad rags with costume designer Peter O’Brien
Great Gatsby: Tara Flynn and husband Carl Austin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Blame the Gate for a new Dublin dress code: getting dressed up to the nines in 1920s glamour and decadence for a night out at the theatre. Its acclaimed immersive production of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby has just been revived and “Jay Gatsby is throwing another glittering party – and you are invited” goes the announcement.
Its run has been extended to February and like its sell-out 2017 production is already flushing out audiences for this “dizzying party” kitted out in their best renditions of Jazz Age gear – gals in drop waisted “flapper” dresses, feathered, beaded hair bands and ropes of pearls - with guys in tuxedos. “You have to love the Dublin audiences and the way they dress up – over 80 per cent do on the night so the word got out” said Charlene McKenna who played Daisy in the 2107 production.
So second time around, we decided to ask a couple to dress up for Gatsby and took them out with Peter O’Brien, the show’s costume designer to find the right gear for the occasion. Actress, comedian and writer Tara Flynn and her husband, scriptwriter Carl Austin rose to the bait and agreed to spend the morning shopping with Peter and getting into the mood. Flynn likes to dress casually and only dresses up for the odd formal event – “and there aren’t that many” and though she hates fancy dress and Halloween, she feels this is different – “it’s like a collaboration and telling a story,” she says.
Like her, Austin favours jeans and sweaters, but when the Los Angeles native worked as the manager of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre movie palace in Hollywood, he had to wear a tuxedo every day “but none since until today. I did my time,” he grins.
“Wearing this suit [from Louis Copeland] makes you stand straight, you feel smarter. I enjoy dressing up and love Halloween,” he adds throwing a glance at his wife. The couple have another big date on their calendar – heading to LA in February for the Oscar Wilde Awards party which honours Irish and Irish American contribution to cinema.
For Peter O Brien, dressing the cast has been particularly challenging because of the physicality of the performances – but dressing up for show guests is quite another. “I think a drop waisted plain black crepe dress – you can find something similar in Cos, for example – with lots of silver, long necklaces, earrings and bracelets is what I love. I avoid chicken feather boas unless they are beautifully curled ostrich feathers like those from the great plumassier Lemarie in Paris”. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
For aspiring Gate theatre-goers, there is a lot of sparkle around to create the necessary metamorphosis – glittering heeled and pearled shoes (from inexpensive numbers at Other Stories and Office to the silver soled Balenciagas at Brown Thomas) to any number of sequinned dresses, long, short or midi that can seal your ticket to the show, make you look a million dollars and transport you to another era. So get on your Mary Janes, be ready to do the Charleston and dream on, old sports.
Special thanks to Sarah White and her team at the Westbury. Photographs were taken in the hotel’s Art Deco Sidecar Bar
Alexander Wright’s production of The Great Gatsby runs at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, until Saturday, February 16th, 2019; gatetheatre.ie