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Backstage News Theatre Wardrobe

10 Backstage wardrobe nightmares that keep us up at night

As a wardrobe professional working backstage, there are always going to be those nightmare situations that crop up unexpectedly.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter how much you prepare, there are some things that are just inevitable when working backstage.
Knowledge is power, so hopefully, after reading through these, you will be much better equipped. For those who have already been there…you will almost certainly be able to relate.
So take note, because regardless of where you are in your career, some of these awkward moments are bound to raise their ugly heads and catch you off guard.

You can’t get a performer into their costume


This is always extremely awkward for everyone involved. No-one ever wants to be in a scenario where you’re not only trying to help a distressed actor into something impossible but you’re also having to work at a frantic speed.

You can’t get a performer out of their costume


This is the funnier of the two situations, but only if you have time to laugh! If an actor is due back on imminently, suddenly things aren’t quite so amusing. Let the yanking commence.

A zip pops moments before a performer is due on stage


No matter how many times you check the zips while they’re hanging in wardrobe village, they’ll wait until the most inconvenient time possible to catch you out. Just make sure you’ve got a handful of safety pins for this one or you’ll definitely be ‘up’ the proverbial creek…

The right costumes haven’t been set


We’ve all been in situations where, because of the show plot, you have to trust your colleagues (or local staff) to set something for your quick change, however, in the melé of the show they haven‘t done it! These things happen, identify the problem and find a fix without throwing your fellow dresser under the bus.

You’ve missed something from your preset


Everyone who’s ever worked in costume and wardrobe will have experienced the sheer panic when you realise you have missed something from your preset.  Cue having to leg it back to Wardrobe Village (or far worse… up five flights of stairs to the actor’s dressing room) to retrieve the neglected item. On the plus side, it’s a damn good workout…

The wrong shoes have been set


The costumes themselves may well be set, but then you realise, they’re the wrong shoes! In the worst case scenario, they may even be else’s shoes entirely. If there’s time, you can leg-it and get the right ones, but if not, then the poor actor may find themselves wedging their toes into brogues three sizes too small for them.

You’re missing a head


Picture this, your working on the Lion King and you can’t find Simba’s head anywhere, the show must go on and so must the actor…that’s the magic of theatre well and truly dead for all the little darlings in the audience. Whoops!

The performer is not wearing the correct underwear


Nobody in the audience wants to see more than they bargained for. Make sure the performer has the correct show pants on for whatever they are about to do physically onstage, otherwise the show might become unexpectedly X-rated.

You and/or the performer get tangled in the costume


Yes, this may sound ridiculous, but trust us, it can happen. The most likely of nightmarish scenarios is when a sleeve, a piece of fabric, or even hair becomes ensnared in a zip fastening.   Cue frantic tugging and twisting, and if hair is involved, potentially a whole load of pain…

The performer doesn’t make it on…


Aaah quick changes, those moments of potential panic we all know and love. Usually, you’ve got this down by the end of tech/dress rehearsals, but every once in a while something goes wrong and a quick change becomes the cause of heart failure for everyone concerned. Best case, the actor goes on without something on, worst case they don’t make their cue and its down to everyone onstage to dust off those improvisation skills.

Had a wardrobe malfunction? Got a funny story? Share it with us and Kozzii readers and get in touch or leave a comment below.

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