Bryce Turgeon just flew in from New York City, and boy, are his arms tired.
OK, it’s a bad joke, but it’s also true in the case of the 2012 Viterbo University graduate who has been furiously cutting, pinning and sewing costumes all week in preparation for the La Crosse Dance Centre’s 24th annual production of “The Nutcracker Ballet.”
“There’s this absurd energy when you’re doing this,” said Turgeon as he worked on piecing together a tiny gray mouse hat — one of nine that he needed to finish before this weekend’s performance. “But I absolutely love it. I look forward to this every year.”
Each of the production’s 90-some dancers — from the Sugar Plum Fairy to the dancing dolls and candies — has a unique, handmade costume designed and made by Turgeon with help from his team of sewing dance moms.
“I’m kind of in love with this one,” he said, fluffing the ruffles on the fluffy white dressing gown with satin trim worn by Maria in Act 1. “It’s like confectioner’s sugar.”
Turgeon has done costuming for LDC’s “Nutcracker” since 2008 and danced in the production as Mother Ginger in 2010 and 2011. After graduation, he worked at theaters in upstate New York and Pennsylvania, and he now lives in Manhattan and works as a first hand at Broadway costume studio Parsons-Meare.
As a first hand, Turgeon assists the draper with making patterns, cutting fabric, pinning hems and “making sure everything is beautiful” before handing the piece off to the stitchers to be assembled.
Parsons-Meare is famous for the studio’s work on top Broadway productions like “Wicked,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.” Turgeon’s boss even designed the fictional “Derelicte” collection for the 2001 movie “Zoolander.”
Turgeon’s work has been getting some screen time as well, most recently in NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” starring country singer Carrie Underwood.
Critics bashed Underwood’s portrayal of Maria von Trapp, but raved about Broadway stars Audra MacDonald and Laura Benanti, who played head nun Reverend Mother and Baroness Elsa Schrader, respectively. Turgeon helped dress them both and was responsible for making Benanti’s scene-stealing red pants.
“It was amazing seeing someone of such a caliber wearing something you made,” Turgeon said.
With all his success in New York, Turgeon has a running joke with LDC artistic director Nikki Balsamo that someday, when he’s rich and famous, The Metropolitan Museum in New York City will run an exhibit of his “Nutcracker” costumes through the ages.
“I love being able to make (the LDC dancers) beautiful things and talk to them about how their costumes are going to look and move and feel,” Turgeon said. “It’s my goal in life to make enough money to do “The Nutcracker” forever, for free. It’s not Christmas unless I’m doing “Nutcracker.”