Costumes play a key role in the success of Mischief Theatre and their latest hit comedy Magic Goes Wrong – so they always call on the designer they trust most. Costume designer Roberto Surace has worked on every single Mischief production since their multi-award-winning breakthrough blockbuster The Play That Goes Wrong. Find out more in our interview below – and then get booking!
Created with magic legends Penn & Teller, Magic Goes Wrong conjures up an evening of grand illusion: a hapless gang of magicians present a charity event, but as the accidents – and fatalities – spiral out of control, so does their fundraising target! The comedy is co-written by Mischief Theatre’s Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer, who co-star with Bryony Corrigan, Nancy Zamit, Dave Hearn and Roxy Faridany. The cast is completed by Natasha Culley, Laurence Pears, Sydney K Smith and Liv Spencer.
Talking to… Roberto Surace
Beyond Mischief’s co-writers and founding members, Melbourne-born costume designer Roberto Surace is the only creative to have worked on every Mischief Theatre show to date, including The Play That Goes Wrong (on Broadway, the West End and elsewhere), The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Mischief Movie Night, Groan Ups and now Magic Goes Wrong.
Did you always want to be a costume designer?
Yes. I trained as a set and costume designer but seem to have landed doing more costume design. I studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, majoring in design.
What brought you to the UK from your native Australia?
The industry in Australia is very limited, especially when it comes to new work. So I thought I’d try my luck in London to make it as a designer, and thankfully it’s paid off.
How did you first get involved with Mischief Theatre?
I had been working for producer Kenny Wax for over a year, and he asked me to do some work on the West End transfer of The Play That Goes Wrong. Initially, it was only to be a three-month run…. I met with Mischief Theatre to do a re-design of the show and, as they say, the rest is history.
You’ve worked on every Mischief show since. Was there a ‘breakthrough’ moment?
I think the moment when I was given that chance to do The Play That Goes Wrong and earning the trust of Mischief Theatre to want to have me on every project. I am truly fortunate to have had this come my way and to work with such brilliant theatre-makers who I can also call my friends.
You also oversee the costumes for Mischief shows internationally. How big an operation is that?
It’s a massive undertaking, especially when international productions are doing replica productions. I may not be required to physically go there for those, but I still have to keep an eye on my work to ensure that it’s getting replicated as closely as possible and that the brand for both Mischief Theatre and the show is upheld.
At what point do you get involved for a brand-new show like Magic Goes Wrong?
I’ve been involved with Magic Goes Wrong for two years, from the initial try-out we did as part of Mischief Movie Night. It’s great to see the evolution of the play and my work.
What has inspired your Magic Goes Wrong costumes?
It’s been a real mix on this one. Eurovision, Cirque du Soleil and the Las Vegas show style have all contributed to the aesthetic. But for costume pieces, I’ve let fabrics dictate certain designs and the character work I do with the actors.
Are there any special considerations for would-be magicians’ costumes?
Good movement, durable and lots of pockets.
Do the costumes change during the show’s preview period?
Thankfully, not so much on this one. I knew exactly what we were doing from the rehearsal period, so I was able to ensure costumes were fit for purpose and my colour palette was pretty much on point from the start. For all creatives, we finish on press night, but some tweaks may be made during our first cast change.
Magic Goes Wrong runs from 14 December 2019 to 15 March 2020 at the Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0NH, with Monday to Saturday evening performances at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 2.30pm, Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. (Check holiday times.) Tickets from £20. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!