Every Variable Stage Halloween production has included a ghostly jazz band. While the skeletons poke around among the tombstones, an ethereal four-piece blazes through a set down in the crypts. From the very first models for the very first show, I knew I wanted jazz ghosts. The earliest ones were inspired by one particular moment from Cab Calloway’s haunting performance of “St. James Infirmary Blues” in Betty Boop’s Snow White that resembles something like a Pac-Man ghost with long tubular limbs. Two years later, we’re here! Even less human and more like their instruments. If this is how they choose to spend the afterlife, it only makes sense that they’ve started to resemble their craft, right?
The drummer is taking a break this year for a number of reasons. The titular location of The Third Avenue Chamber is something like a coworking space for supernatural goings-on; the group performs at the Granite Cemetery, but this is their practice room. It’s hard enough to play horns in this space without bothering the other tenants, let alone float in an entire drumkit. (Also, I just like the balance of these three for what I’m trying to accomplish this year!)
Since they’re rehearsing, the soundtrack will be a little different. They’ll continue playing their songs, but there will be frequent interruptions, either to work back through a challenging section, or simply because one of them heard a mistake and wants to stop to scold the other two. Of course, they only communicate with their instruments. Expect petulant toots!
The model is 1/5 scale, meaning that if a full-size character is 5 feet tall, then in this iteration they are one foot tall. I drafted the drawings you see here at 1/5 scale as well, meaning that they were a one-to-one reference for the wire armatures that hold up the characters. When that wire looks right, it’s covered in foil, as you see in progress here, and then in paper clay, as you’ll see later.
There are other characters getting this treatment as well, just out of frame from this photo. Who are they? You’ll find out soon!