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Alley Theatre Wardrobe Team
Photo by Sam Ferrigno

Heroes Behind the Seams: The Dressers 

Interview with Brandy Karlsen, Wardrobe Supervisor

What does it mean to work in Wardrobe at a professional theatre?

It means a lot to be a professional dresser. As part of the back stage crew, wardrobe is often the first crew to arrive and the last crew to leave. Before the show, we facilitate laundry and preparation of costumes. For each performance, we execute quick changes and tracking of costumes. When the show ends, we do laundry and set up to do it all again. We literally wash, rinse and repeat - eight shows a week.

If you had to choose, what part of your job do you love most?
If done well, our work is seen on stage, but not noticed. I love when the most complicated of changes appears as one fluid movement. We work hard to choreograph those quick-change moments with the actors. Not to mention, working so closely with the actors lets us see just how great a company they truly are.

What is the most challenging?
Every show presents a new challenge. The technical challenge is coordinating with all departments such as sound, wigs, stage crew to make the show seem as smooth and seamless as possible. 

What impresses you most about your team?
My crew works tirelessly. They have come together and mastered quick-change heavy shows (like Around the World in 80 Days and All the Way), they maintained costumes that were basically fossils and turned them into wearable clothes eight shows a week. They stayed together and never missed a day when I was out recovering from cancer. They are the best team out there. I am lucky. This theatre is lucky.

Photo: Back Row (L-R): Alison Hora (Wig Assistant), Tim Williams (Wig Assistant), Murphy Wilson (Wardrobe), Marisa Chaney (Wardrobe Assistant), Brandy Karlsen (Wardrobe Supervisor). Front Row (L-R): Samantha Dante (Wardrobe), Chelsea O'Herron (Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor), and Vicky Anton (Wardrobe). Photo by Sam Ferrigno.