Dressing the Part: The Backstage Perspective of Dracula vs. The Nazis

2 actors, 15 characters and 42 quick-changes. How do actors Chris Flieller and Doug Jarecki manage to get into costume so quickly, sometimes with as few as 10 seconds? They have a little (well, not just a little) help from our wonderful dressers backstage. During the next two weeks, we’ll take you backstage as we learn more about the tasks involved with being a dresser, the atmosphere backstage and how the backstage crew is essential to making a comedy like Dracula vs. The Nazis run so smoothly.

dracula_vs_the_nazis_2-of-3 Q&A with dressers Amanda Houchens and Rachel Zembrowski Part One:

1. What is your role as a dresser and how did you come to be one?

Amanda: I essentially assist Chris with his costume changes as he moves from scene to scene. I did a few shows in high school and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where I had to assist in some quick changes. I’d have to say this is the most I’ve ever experienced in a show though!

Rachel:  As a dresser, I help Doug change his costumes throughout the show. I make sure he’s got any props he needs for the top of the scene, and that he knows what scene is coming up. This is my first show as a strict dresser. I have helped out with costume changes during my previous backstage work, though, and have had my fair share of quick changes in my own performance career.

2. How many times do you help Chris and/or Doug get into costume during the show?

Amanda: There are forty-two quick changes between Chris and Doug. I believe Chris has about twenty. Rachel and I work on most of the changes together too.

Rachel: Doug has 21 costume changes during the show and I help with them all. I help with 9 of Chris’s costume changes.

3. What’s the hardest quick-change that you do during the show?

Amanda: During the second to last scene, Chris goes from Renfield to Cecily and back to Renfield in only about two minutes. That is definitely an all hands on deck change!

Rachel: During the second act, Oogie runs offstage, leaving Frank onstage. We have to change Oogie to Dracula B, which involves adjusting his pants, changing his shoes, changing the whole top costume, getting his wig on, and making sure he has an integral prop. All while Chris is onstage stalling for time. 30 seconds may not seem like a lot to the uninitiated, but it is a long time to stand onstage by yourself without anything to say, and it’s not a lot of time to do that big of a costume change. Amanda, Shannon, and I all help out with this change. It’s pretty busy.

Find out more about Amanda and Rachel’s roles as dressers in Part Two of this blog series! Dracula vs. The Nazis by Michael Neville runs until October 30th. Purchase tickets by calling the box office at 414-271-1371 or click here.