What Would the Almighty Wear? An Act of God's Costume Designer Gives Us the Scoop
We found God—and he's at the theater! Jim Parsons plays the holier-than-thou other-worldly persona in the hit Broadway one-man-show, An Act of God. The premise is about what happens when life's higher being comes down to Earth and takes over Parsons' body to dictate the new 10 commandments for living life in the modern era. Sure, it's a crazy idea, but it's Broadway and it's theater, and that's what keeps it interesting. Parsons' delivery as this higher power is delightfully fun, and he we laughed out loud at many of the comedy's jokes, including one particularly spot-on comment about how half the audience probably thinks he's playing another form of his famously uptight, more-intelligent-than-any-human-on-earth character Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
When we left, we wondered how Parsons came to be dressed as God, in his glowing white robes and all, so we called upon the show's costume designer David Zinn to unearth the mystery. Turns out, it was no miracle: It took weeks to put together the look for Parsons to wear, even though he only wears one white robe over jeans and a T-shirt throughout most of the show.
"First, I started by seeing how God was dressed in the past," explained Zinn. "Except for George Burns and Morgan Freeman, the amount of times you've actually really seen God in movies is small. Usually, God is a light or something, and not costumed all that much." Therefore, he referenced material like Byzantine paintings and movies like Clash of the Titans and even explored what Jesus would wear. "There was definitely a drapey approach to dressing God, which has since become everyone's shorthand for what they think God would wear," Zinn explained. "That's how I came up with some kind of Byzantine yogi from the early 1920s or '30s and blended it all together to get what we got."
The robe he ended up with was made of four-ply silk crepe. "I really wanted him to have a cape moment," said Zinn. "How could I not? If you can give a cape to Diana Ross, how can you not give it to God in his own one-man show?" Parsons was thrilled with the result, cape and all, Zinn said. "When I showed him sketches, he thought they were great," Zinn said. "But when I put the cape on him in the fitting room, he was like 'Oh, this is happening, this is absolutely happening.'"
Zinn didn't just dress God. He also dressed God's two angels, played by Tim Kazurinsky and Christopher Fitzgerald. Their costumes were a little more complicated, as they involved a set of wings more intricate than a Victoria's Secret Angel. Each pair did tricks, like fall off, rise up, and move downward. Also, unlike God, they have costumes with gold rather than just white. "Because they’re not on for very long, I thought like they needed a dazzle dazzle," said Zinn. Of course, it's Broadway.
So, is it easier to dress a cast for a one-man show than a full-out production? "It's similar, but what's different is that you're not spending hours and hours in stores looking for the perfect thing," said Zinn. "We bought fabric and spent time making the perfect thing and focusing on each actor. It was nice to give each of these guys some attention." Well, God deserves some, right?