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Theatre costume
  • Theatre costume
    Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne, born 1904 - died 1978
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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1965 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne, born 1904 - died 1978 (costume designers)
    Skillen, Hugh (costumier)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lurex, braid, metal, beads and artificial jewels

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Kathleen A. Houston

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Twang! (a title sometimes given two or even three exclamation marks) was a comedy musical loosely based on the Robin Hood legend. On paper it had everything in its favour. The composer, Lionel Bart, had already had a major success with Oliver!, which was in its 6th year in London when Twang! opened. The cast included Barbara Windsor and Bernard Bresslaw, well-known for their appearances in the popular Carry On films, and the director, Joan Littlewood, founder of Theatre Workshop, had recently brought her production of the anti-war musical, Oh What a Lovely War, to the West End. Only the choice of designer was surprising. Though regarded as Britain's leading theatre designer in the mid-20th century, Oliver Messel's lavish, painterly style was beginning to fall out of favour in the 1960s, and he was associated with ballet and opera not with knockabout musicals.

As it turned out, Messel was the one member of the production team to receive favourable reviews. After a troubled pre-London tour during which Joan Littlewood left the show, Twang! opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre and was savaged by the critics who found the plot poor, the script excruciatingly unfunny, and the acting flat. Messel's designs were pronounced the night's real pleasure. He created an amusing fantasy world where characters like Maid Marian dressed in medieval costumes made from 1960s fabrics.

Physical description

Headdress for Maid Marian worn by Toni Eden. Fantasy medieval headdress. Elaborate 'fillet' high at front, lower to sides, of 'flowers' and mounts, of lurex braids and set with pearls. From either side from front to back rise 'templars', latticed with gold lurex braid, centred with smoked pearls.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1965 (made)


Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne, born 1904 - died 1978 (costume designers)
Skillen, Hugh (costumier)

Materials and Techniques

Lurex, braid, metal, beads and artificial jewels


Height: 16 cm, Width: 26 cm, Depth: 22 cm

Object history note

Headdress for Maid Marian worn by Toni Eden in Lionel Bart's musical Twang, Shaftesbury Theatre, London, December 1965. The book for the show was by Harvey Orkin and Lionel Bart, and the music and lyrics were by Bart. The production was directed by Burt Shevelove, and the musical numbers were staged by Paddy Stone. The scenery and costumes were designed by Oliver Messel.

Descriptive line

Headdress for Maid Marian, worn by Toni Eden in the musical Twang!, Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 1965.


Lurex; Braid; Metal; Beads; Artificial jewels




Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes; Hats & headwear


Theatre and Performance Collection

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