Here’s how Broadway actors do insanely fast costume changes

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47 seconds seems really slow, it feels like they can do it in 10.

Pffffft. I can do a costume change in 1.


It’s interesting that the first costume has 4 separate skirt-pieces, clearly slowing down the turn-around, while the second is one convenient, fast-zip piece of textile engineering, with no less flounce & swoosh. I wonder why?

God Bless Dressers (that’s what they call the people helping her). And if you want to see the results of phenomenal fast changes sometime - far faster than this one - check out a production of one of the Greater Tuna series of plays. It has actors not only changing costumes but gender as well. And these plays are wickedly funny as well.

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It’s worth considering that this is a medley for the Tony awards. Chances are that in the full show, she has time to change out of the first dress before going back on, whereas the second dress might already be designed for a quick change when in the context of the show.


True that, and I guess these things run expensive enough that you don’t just casually order up a higher-speed duplicate just for some medley.

You’re not wrong. Wicked’s more elaborate costumes run in the thousands of dollars per garment and just about each actor coming into the show has a tailor made set of costumes.

I’m wondering why the dressers are holding the flashlights in their mouths (they seem to be on lanyards round their necks) rather than wearing headlamps.

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Some of the best advice I ever got (from BoingBoing friend Adam Savage, no less):

Calm people live.

This is related- there’s no panic, no worry, nothing but absolute focus on the task at hand. It’s beautiful in the same way that watching someone in a flow state is beautiful.


I work in the business; I’ve never heard it discussed, but it reduces the danger of stray beams of light from the wings during black-outs & dark scenes; at any rate, that’s why I don’t wear mine during shows.


I was expecting something a bit more fascinating than “There are a bunch of people to help her take off one costume and put on the other one”. Some sort of fancy quick-change gimmickry in the costume, for example.

Reminds me of an F1 pit stop crew. The focused calm is really admirable (and necessary).


Markteck, exactly.

If the light is in your mouth you’re waaay less likely to forget it and wander around with it on backstage during blackout scenes.

(used to work in the business)


Take another look at the second dress. Once everything is pulled up to her waist, she spends a solid 7 seconds hooking at least 4 skirts together. The only difference between the two seems to be that the first two skirts on Dress #1 are hooked in the back while all four skirts are hooked in the front on Dress #2.

And that’s why dress rehearsal is so important.

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