Suuuuuuch looooooong daaaaaaaaays!! My God, y’all. This is the point where there is no glamour in this job. Hours standing around in heels. And I don’t want you to think I’m just exaggerating. This is not one of those moments where the ladies can go, “welcome to my world”. I mean literally hours STANDING AROUND IN HEELS. Several of the costumes are complicated enough to not allow us to really undress during a short break and because they are so unwieldy in some cases, you can’t really leave the backstage area or sit down. So you start working on the tech and you stop and start, and have a break that you just stand around and chat with others who must just stand around, then you get back to work and 3 1/2- 4 hours later, you realize you’ve actually only sat down for about 15 minutes in that entire time.
Now I must say here that the costumes are amazing. Seriously, crazily out of this world fun. But it has been a challenging process to get into them and then try the numbers with them on. Everything changes. Each one of the specialty costumes has it’s challenges. By specialty, I mean the ones that aren’t just “guy” costumes. I shall give you examples. My fantastic funeral costume – the Executive Mermaid – poses a challenge in how tight the knees are and the weight and width of the mermaid bottom. The paintbrushes are challenging in terms of the width of the hips and the slight off-centred quality of the headpiece. The showgirls – which look extraordinary – have feathered headpieces that are about 3 1/2 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide that seem to want to become airborn as soon as you move, not to mention the issue of balance (and stairs). The cupcakes – well, imagine a 40 pound green vinyl hoop skirt around your waist that you have to spin in . . . . try changing direction in one beat. Yikes. Here’s a look at one of our swings (understudies), Josh, in a cupcake costume.
Having said all of that, the wonderful part of what we do is the problem solving. What happens in the next few days is we do the numbers over and over again and work out how to adjust to all of these obstacles. In fact, the obstacles will become a “flavour” in the number. It will inform a physical vocabulary. I kind of love that part. And Andy, our choreographer, who is amazing, is great about giving us tips or listening to what we need to help us out while maintaining the integrity of the choreography.
Morale has been mixed, I won’t lie. These days are hard. Long hours (1:00 to 11:00 for the last two days – four more days like this). The poor dressers are trying to figure out how to do the changes, where to do the changes, what’s involved in each of the changes . . . and by changes, I mean, dealing with the 300+ costumes in the show each night. Often, they have 15 people running at them at one time doing the most intricate costume changes in less than 2 minutes, less than 1 minute sometimes. They have only had the costumes for about a week and a half and most of the first week was taking the costumes out of the transport containers, steaming, labelling, organizing. And amidst this, they have still been making, finishing, and receiving costumes from other places (New York, London, Australia). But it’s going to look great. The dressers, crew, sound department are all such great peeps. They’re funny, hard-working, efficient. Lots of laughs. We are going to have a great run but we will still have a few more trying days of sorting . . . and tears. Such is the way. But it’s going to be a visual feast.