A smooth, professional show depends on seamless set and costume changes. Part of your job as an entertainer or artist is making fast transitions from one outfit to another - whether you're a dancer, actor, or musician. Follow the four tips listed below to achieve quick-change mastery.
Make Use of Tech
Shakespeare's actors would wish they had the tech available to artists and actors today. In the past, you had to pay close attention to the sounds coming from the stage. If not, you might miss your cue.
Today, you don't need to listen out for your cues. You don't need a prompter rushing into the dressing room to scream that you have seconds to get to stage left. Simply place a video monitor in the dressing room with video and audio feed from the show. Now you can change rapidly without the stress of listening hard or enduring verbal bullying.
If you're only doing a one-night run, use smartphones and devices to connect the backstage to the action on stage. As a last resort, use texts or a face-to-face app to communicate.
Rehearse Your Changes
You can never practice your costume and makeup changes enough. By the time you've run through a few rehearsals of the full show, you know how long you have to switch out of one costume into a new leotard or suit. Practice your changes until you can be ready in less time than you're allotted.
If you have assistants to help you dress and do makeup, let them do their job. Don't block them from helping you get ready. Practice dressing and performing your quick-change tasks while your assistants scrub off your makeup and do your hair. The more you rehearse the quick changes together, the more efficient you'll be as a team when it's show time.
As you run through your first complete changes, write down the items you used and the items you wish you had available. Rehearsing the steps of your quick changes is the best way to discover new ways to be a fast dresser.
Write Down the Steps
Once your quick-change routines are set, write down each step in an organized, detailed manner. Keep the list of tasks in your dressing-room bag. If your usual assistant is not able to make the show, another person can help you prepare for the next scene or set by following your list.
Make a video record of the quick changes for a long-running show. Understudies and rotating staff appreciate seeing how the process works when their turn comes to help move the show along.
When your run ends, schedule a post-show post-mortem. Discuss the quick changes with the rest of the cast and crew. Work together to determine ways you can make the process easier and faster next time.
Organize Your Kit
Use your lists of items and quick-change steps to create a kit for quick changes. Include makeup wipes, extra socks, needles and thread, and any other items that may be useful in a costume emergency.
In the backstage dressing room or quick-change booth, arrange your items for each costume change. If possible, have a clear, covered shoe tote for each costume change. Inside, have the little extras - including jewelry, a necktie, gloves, or lipstick - necessary for that particular scene.
When your costume supplies are arranged for each quick change, you won't waste time searching for vital costume components. You'll feel in control of your changes and become a master of the quick change.
At ABC Costume Shop, we help you master the art of the awesome costume. We have clothing and accessories available for all of your shows, events, and parties. With over 30,000 costumes in stock, we outfit South Florida film, television, opera, theater, and other productions. Contact us today to learn more.