The Man Behind our New Finale Costume: A Conversation With Emilio SosaT
ony and Drama Desk Award-nominated costume designer, Emilio Sosa, is no stranger to generating stunning looks for the stage. So naturally, when we asked him to create a new look for our brand-new finale, “Christmas Lights,” he delivered!
We sat down with Emilio during a fitting, to talk about his inspiration for the costume and what he loves most about the Christmas Spectacular.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from the Dominican Republic and I grew up in the South Bronx in New York City.
What inspires you about Christmas?
What inspires me most about Christmas is that it’s the one time that we all come together and celebrate as one. We put our differences aside and come together as people – as family, friends, co-workers –the Christmas season is about coming together and seeing how we as people can become our greater selves and not be so wrapped up in our own issues. Christmas allows us to become more human.
What is your favorite number in the show?
There’s something about the “Living Nativity.” We all know the story, but seeing it in front of you to that magnitude of spectacle with the actors, the animals, the costumes, the lights, the music – it really just makes it so special and puts me in the Christmas spirit. When I was growing up, we always had a little nativity scene so seeing it live brings me back to being a kid.
Do you remember the first time you ever saw the Rockettes?
The first time I saw the Rockettes, I was a Cub Scout and we came from the Bronx to see the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. I remember how cold it was, but when the Rockettes came on, that was my first big ah-ha moment with the Rockettes. Fast forward and I had a friend who was in the ensemble of the show. That was when I first witnessed the magnitude of the Christmas Spectacular and what it meant to so many people. Being in the room and sharing it with so many people at the same time and seeing the Rockettes in the context of the show, that was a milestone for me and something I’ll never forget.
What do you love about the Christmas Spectacular?
As a costume designer, I love the amount of work and effort that goes into the production that the audience doesn’t see. All they see is beauty and the magic, which is what we strive for. When I hear a gasp for one of my costumes, then I think I did my job.
Tell us about your inspiration for the costumes and how your personal creative vision fits in with the overall vision for the new finale.
The new finale is really going to drive home the emotion of Christmas and what Christmas means. It’s one of those numbers that encompasses all of your senses, and that’s what makes a rich experience.
The original inspiration for the Rockettes costumes was vintage Christmas lights with their saturated colors. My goal was to make the costumes and the women glow and shine like Christmas lights. This is an entirely different look for the Rockettes, in that we’re adding colors that they haven’t worn before and the costumes are fully integrated with the drone technology and the digital mapping – it all comes together. What’s important for me is thinking about how the colors look from every seat in the house and learning how different materials reflect light in different ways. The finished product should be beautiful and sparkly!
You’ve designed for a number of major Broadway and off-Broadway productions – what is it like to design for the Rockettes? How is this a unique challenge?
Designing for the Rockettes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When you see all of the women together on stage, you’re amazed that they all look the same. But, each woman is individual and I try to design so that I’m tuned in to that individuality.
Join us for the 2018 Christmas Spectacular—the show is running now through January 6th at Radio City Music Hall!