I am in the middle of my 7 week production of Spamalot. Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and The Holy Grail. If you haven’t seen either…I would highly recommend both…If you’re in the LA area and have a free Friday, Saturday or Sunday free in August stop by the shows at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and also at The Cerritos Center for The Performing Arts. Both are beautiful theaters and 3D Theatricals is using all of the original Broadway costumes and sets. Its pretty fantastic! I am a member of the girl ensemble which consists of a cast of 6 females. Originally Casey Nicholaw choreographed the tall girls to be nearly 6 feet tall, medium girls (me) around 5’8 and then the shortest 5’6! It is a tall, flashy, sexy show that is full of glitter glam, cheerleading, ballet, jazz, can-cans, even a little hiphop breakdown section. A dancers dream! It is such a fun show to be a part of and the costumes we women get to wear are straight from my Hollywood dreams. With this said..I am obsessed with the costumes…but holy moly are there a lot of quick changes for us women in the first act. We open the show with three pairs of tights under a Finland three piece skirt and top included. Then have one scene to change into tan fishnets a leotard cape new wig, skirt, pompoms new heels and grab a reed. After this we have one more scene to change into a four piece waitress/ball girl showgirl costume that was hands downs my favorite in the show! I will include some pictures at the bottom. These are just the first three changes lol…but…This is LITERALLY WHAT I LIVE FOR I am so obsessed with it…but at first it can be very overwhelming and difficult to accomplish. Tech week was a little rough for me 😉 (See my blog about using failure to help you not hurt you) I have learned a lot about completing your quick changes successful from the first tech week, and I would like to share some of these tips.
1) Make sure you have pinned, taped, shaved and secured everything that will be going underneath the costume
- This could mean making sure you have done your pin-curls right (See vlog about pin curls and how to do them) all the way to whether or not you need to shave your armpits. Make sure the foundation is all ready and warm (see my warmup) to help make the show go as smooth as possible for you. Also you don’t want hairy armpits…
- This is also referencing to the clothing that you will be wearing underneath costumes ie. tights, underwear, bras. It is imperative to know what tights you will be wearing and when and where in the show ..could you maybe double up a pair…For example before the show starts I have my base pair of tights (Diva Hosiery brand! Highly recommended no control top etc. Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders use these LA Laker Girls use these…they are just awesome) then I have a tan sparkly fishnet for the Lady of the Lake scene and then I put my Fish Schlapping tights over these. 3 sets…slightly feel like Beyoncé…slightly feel like a sausage…you get the idea. I am flat as a board so bra wise I do not need to wear a bra under my costumes. I know many performers that wear a corset that is strapless underneath her costume and some even wear spanx. Whatever makes you feel the most secure and will not restrict your performance. I HIGHLY recommend if you are trying on a new undergarment practice using it at a rehearsal or class to make sure you like it.
2) Make sure you have preset whatever clothing that you will need to be changing in and out of on stage and make sure these belongings are on the correct side of the stage for your entrances
- For example. I like to prepare a little “cheat sheet” for me the last week of rehearsals to map out which side of the stage I am on for each scene, what my entrances, exits are, which wing I am entering in, and what I am wearing what shoes I have on and whether I have a prop or not. It helps you have a clearer picture in your head before entering the theater, and helps eliminate any questions of doubt and may reduce the error margin before tech begins…whatever helps right?!
- I also like to communicate nicely and positively with the dressers where I will be, what I will be doing or needing. It really gets everyone on the same page and these people are the ones who are really going to help this whole change work so don’t get on their bad side 🙂 Also the dressers always have some awesome tips to put your clothes on faster. One of the dressers taught me a trick on how to get gloves on faster by scrunching them up and having another person hold them while I slide my hand through 😉 Super slick.
3) Place the shoes on the ground with buckles open and ready to slide in.
4) Have the order in which you put your clothing on (I like to go bottom to top) in the same order in your basket.
5) Stay calm. Breathing while changing helps. When I am in a panic I miss items and get shaky or sweat more and it doesn’t help at all. Basically because I’m a spazzz all of the time when I’m not breathing and freaking out my spaz level gets to about 600…not cute…Think and act like you are those people that change the at the Indy 500. They move with calm, cool, collected precision like birds in murmuration and sometimes get to do it in super cute jumpers 😉
6) FINALLY but most importantly ask for help. If a change isn’t working or you need another member of your cast to help you button, snap, twirl whatever it may be ASK. In this show I am often on the same side of the stage as this fireball singer, actor, dancer rockstar named Jane who helps me out consistently throughout the show get in and out of costumes. We work as a team one unhooking the other like a second choreographed dance behind the curtain. I couldn’t have done it without my castmates help.
Hope some of these tips were helpful! I love performing and know that sometimes a quick change or a prop can add a little stress to your show. If you have any tips you have found for yourself I would love to learn more!
Keep spreading the joy of the arts with the world. Especially at times when we need some light to fade out the darkness.
Xoxoxooxoxoxoxo Slay today and always. Jean