Lip Sync Battle

May. 21st, 2019

By Anna Wyckoff

Costume Design can be a whirlwind of activity and a scramble to meet deadlines, but few jobs require the speed that Costume Designer Jeanie Cheek has become accustomed to after five seasons on Lip Sync Battle. “Our average prep time for an episode is anywhere from 36 to 48 hours. When our guests are booked and they choose the songs they’d like to perform, sometimes we turn it around in 12,” Cheek says. Her crew is another important aspect of getting the job done, and Cheek has maintained an extraordinary amount of cohesion with her staff. “I essentially have the same team that I’ve had since episode one and we have become a well oiled machine. They all know the turnaround is going to be crazy, so they just roll with it. We just lean into it.”

Interaction with celebrity guests has a context that is unique to the show. “It’s our goal for them to have fun, no pressure. We want it to feel like fantasy camp.” That emphasis means the costumes have to suit not only the performer, but the performance. “We’ve done a few Lady Gaga songs. Some of those were intimidating because she’s so innovative, and we didn’t want it to be a parody. We made sure it was a tribute.” Other episodes are more of a technical challenge. “Tom Holland did a tap dance in a tuxedo that needed to tear away to a Rihanna style outfit. We had water and fire, so all our dancers had to have proper wardrobe that would be safe. All that was built. We couldn’t really buy any of it.”

Just as important is that the costumes hold up to the rigors of the performances. “Our choreographer, Danielle Flora, is phenomenal and she holds nothing back,” she enthuses. “When they dance, they really go for it, so we have to make sure that things aren’t going to bust or rip. We always make sure as much as we can that people are safe on the floor. It feels really good. It really does.”

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