Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Stripping down the hallway.

Quick changes sometimes have a way of being quick not because of how soon the performer’s next entrance is on stage, but to give the performer a little bit of personal time in their dressing room before going back on stage. It may be so they can drink water – singers drink A LOT of water to stay hydrated, go to the restroom (see first item), look at upcoming music, eat a snack (fruit and granola bars are popular), or simply just to sit down for a few minutes. Many principal singers at HGO now have recliners in their dressing rooms, thanks to Susan. I can’t remember the show, but it was very demanding physically, Susan was rolling around on stage, sliding, bumping and bruising. Trying to make her more comfortable for an aching body, she was offered a recliner for her dressing room. Word passed among divas that you too can have a recliner when you sing with Houston Grand Opera, and the rest is history. Wouldn’t you want to quickly change clothes so you can sit and relax in a recliner? On the left is a picture of Susan from a previous production, taking a break between scenes, in the recliner.

So what does Susan do this show? Wortham Center’s Brown Theatre has a backstage hallway where principal singer’s dressing rooms are located. Susan has one costume change, and it is in Act III. She is wearing gloves, a coat, and vest that she strips off as she comes down the hallway to her dressing room. I have the door propped open so she can come right into her room. By the time she reaches me, she is down to pants and shirt, and just barely wearing shoes. We change her pants, shoes, vest, jacket, and add a sword in a very short time. Dotti from wigs and make-up will also be there to make sure she didn’t smudge her make-up, and that her hair is in place. By getting her change done quicker than needed for stage directions, she gets some personal time.

Soon, she is back on stage, I go back to reading a book – a common practice among dressers (Kindle's are gaining popularity), and wait for my next call. Next on the sheet, take her sword at the end of Act III, she doesn’t need it for curtain calls.

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