Toni-Leslie James is now a three-time Tony Award-nominated designer, thanks to her brilliant work on Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet.
The Roundabout Theatre Company production, starred Janet McTeer as Sarah Bernhardt when she decided to tackle the role of all roles: Hamlet. Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel tasked James with created costumes for the backstage world of Bernhardt and her theatre company as well as their period production of Hamlet; James had to capture the magnetism and sexuality of Bernhardt in her feminine clothes as well as in her masculine Hamlet garb. But James rose to the challenge thanks to her star.
“Working with Janet...watching her move in a mirror actually taught me as a costume designer,” says James in the video above. “She’s just a consummate professional, flawless actor, but my goodness she really knows her body.”
James, whose previous nominations include Jelly’s Last Jam and Jitney, counts Bernhardt/Hamlet as her 20th Broadway credit, including Come From Away, Chita Rivera: A Dancer’s Life, as well as the original production of Footloose and Angels in America. But the costume designer first fell in love with the theatre as a child in the audience. Hear her full story in the video above.