Tales from the Frontlines of a Musical

Tales from the Frontlines of a Musical

The first weekend of Urinetown is over! It’s been another crazy week for me (as usual), and I have learned a lot.

Although I have been involved in theatre for over six years, I have only ever acted in a show. Because our department likes well-rounded students, all theatre majors must complete “practicums”-hands-on classes in set and costume construction, electrics, and run crew. I enrolled in my first run crew practicum for Urinetown, and was assigned to the wardrobe crew.

As someone who barely passed the sewing section of my Stagecraft class, I was pretty nervous-and rightly so. The wardrobe crew is responsible for every aspect of the casts’ costumes. It is our job to check costumes in and out before and after every performance, as well as to make repairs. Because Urinetown is an active, movement-heavy musical, repairs are frequently necessary.

During the show, we wait in the wings to help actors make quick changes in between scenes. During one transition, the actors only have 27 seconds to change into a completely new outfit and get back on! This takes a lot of practice and becomes just like another piece of the choreography (of course, offstage). It is important that we solve as many problems as possible so that the actors can focus on their performance, and not the details of their costumes.

Though it hasn’t been the easiest experience, it’s been a necessary one. It is important for actors to understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a production outside of their individual performances. I always took for granted the fact that my costume would be nicely cleaned and hung every day-now I realize that this is because someone stayed up til one in the morning doing laundry backstage (and during Urinetown on a Friday night, that person was me).

I am also proud to say that I now have basic hand-sewing skills! How many 18 year-old guys can say that today, huh? z

The show closes this weekend, but I’m excited for another round of performances!


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