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Character Creation Costume Extravaganza

Becoming Madame Morrible: Isabel Keating Takes Us Through Her Wicked Transformation

October 31st, 2018 by

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Becoming Madame Morrible: Isabel Keating Takes Us Through...

BroadwayBox's week-long coverage of #Wicked15 continues with the one-and-only Isabel Keating. The Tony nominee and Theatre World Award winner stars as Madame Morrible (the duplicitous headmistress of Shiz) in the milestone anniversary cast of Wicked, a role she's played deliciously on Broadway and on tour. Below, Isabel shares with us her process of transforming into Morrible's first Susan Hilferty look.

Madame Morrible Wicked GIF- Isabel Keating

Happy 15th Anniversary, Wicked! I am so fortunate to get to wear these iconic costumes, first inhabited and brought to life by the incomparable, late, great Carole Shelley, then worn in various incarnations by so many brilliant women over the past 15 years. I think Mme. Morrible’s are some the best costumes I have ever worn. They are magnificent! But before a stitch of beautiful fabric comes near me, we must apply the necessary foundation. This means corset, yes, but also face, and even though that might not be considered “costume” by some, the makeup for my character of Mme. Morrible is an important part of my process, so I am letting you in on it! I like to take about a half and hour for hair and face, but there it is for Broadway Box readers to see time-lapsed down to a few seconds. I love the bold brows, a lot of storytelling in those two strokes of a paint brush!


Next comes the glorious topper, my golden tresses, gorgeously styled in all its frothy asymmetry by hair artist Cheri Rose, and the signature little dangling curl, as if I was running through the Ozian forest and my hairdo got caught on a branch… nothing small about this look! We need it to balance out what is to come….

Isabel Keating Madame Morrible Wicked Broadway Musical

Photo by Joan Marcus


Designer Susan Hilferty (who rightly won the Tony Award for her work on these and all the costumes in Wicked) imagined Mme. Morrible’s wardrobe with such a clear trajectory, as well as fabulousness! I just love my first costume, it is a very detailed mash of textures and gradations of red, I think of this as my “incarnadine” robe, it sees me through the first act, look at the shape! I am enveloped in a crisscross like an Escher, where does it begin, where does it end? The sleeves like wings on a prehistoric flying fish, high laced collar finished at the neck with a gaudy brooch….and the ever-present bustle, all of it in tones of telltale blood-red, burgundy, maroon, gold. I finish it all off with my trademark gold magnifying glass on a gilded lariat, the better to see you with, my dearies!


I love the intricate fabric patterns, uncoordinated but perfectly so, the beading all over one side of the dress, and gold beading around mid-skirt, this creature really likes her bling.


Don't miss Isabel Keating as Madame Morrible in Wicked at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre.