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Welcome to Meet the Member, where TDF members let you know which shows they love.
Today's member: Cliff Hoppus, TDF member and volunteer for TDF's Autism Theatre Initiative. He lives in Manhattan, and is a fashion stylist and small business owner.
Emily Travis, Marketing Manager at TDF: Hi, Cliff! To get started, what shows have you seen recently?
Cliff Hoppus: Fun Home, A Delicate Balance, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. My boyfriend and I went to see that last one when it was in previews, and then we volunteered to be ushers for TDF's autism-friendly performance of the show.
Emily: How did the audience reaction to that particular performance of Curious Incident affect you?
Cliff: It was terrific! There was a talkback with the cast members afterward. The audience seemed to feel like they were really understood because the play demonstrates how different people react differently to the world. It was really heartwarming to see the wild applause at the end of the show, and then to hear the audience feedback.
Emily: You got to go backstage recently when you went to see The Visit. Can you talk about that experience?
Cliff: It was great! I didn't get to meet Chita Rivera. But I am friends with Mary Beth Peil, who plays the wife of Roger Rees's character. It was amazing to hear her take on the show, and learn about how it has changed over the past 14 years since it was first performed. Up until recently, they were still changing it! The ending of the show even changed during the previews.
Emily: The subdued colors in the costumes and scenery of The Visit made me feel like I was watching the play in black and white. As a fashion stylist, what did you think of the inclusion of such bold, yellow shoes among all the shades of gray?
Cliff: The tone is very dark. The show has a sense of humor, but it is macabre. The color yellow really comes to symbolize the villagers' newfound greed, and it appears more and more throughout the show.
Emily: When you attend shows, do you find that you pay particular attention to the costumes and the styling because of your profession?
Cliff: Yes, of course! I saw Gigi and Catherine Zuber's costumes were incredible. I would love to see The King and I, which she also designed costumes for. And the costumes for Hedwig and the Angry Inch [by Arianne Phillips] are incredible! They add so much. What matters is that the costumes are appropriate for the show. In Curious Incident, the costumes are so simple, but that lets you focus more on the story. The costumes in Pippin were great! And the functionality was perfect, too.
Emily: If you could do fashion styling or costumes for any show, which one would it be?
Cliff: I love period costumes so I would enjoy doing a show like The King and I. There is a mix of exotic, ethnic costumes and great 19th-century [Western] outfits for Anna. That would be so much fun. I also love fantastical style, like in Peter and the Starcatcher, which had a cool, 19th-century, steampunk feel to it, and was really out there. Doing truly creative work is fun for me.
Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity
Photo courtesy of Cliff Hoppus