Care­ful chaos and 180 wigs to make this show Beau­ti­ful

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - NAOMI WHITE

STEP back be­hind the cur­tain of any theatre pro­duc­tion and you’ll find a tightly or­ches­trated world of or­gan­ised chaos.

For Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal, with a cast of 24 per­form­ers and a crew of 80, the chore­og­ra­phy of be­hind-the-scenes ac­tion comes down to the se­cond.

While sound and light play out on stage, a few steps ei­ther side an­other per­for­mance is tak­ing place where those whose job is on­stage and those whose tasks are off it, each hold their place while be­ing con­scious of not block­ing an­other’s.

Stage crews dart about man­ag­ing tim­ings and cues, sound and light­ing. Cast mem­bers await their en­trance or get last minute makeup touch ups, props move into place and the next set change is prepped.

As com­pany man­ager Dawn Martin says, back­stage is a world onto it­self.

Ar­guably one of the cra­zi­est places is the wardrobe depart­ment, where 1300 in­di­vid­ual pieces, in­clud­ing lead star Es­ther Han­naford’s dress from the Carnegie Hall scene, made from nine me­ters of fab­ric, are or­gan­ised.

There are 170 pairs of shoes and 180 wigs recre­at­ing the 1950s through to the early 1970s. Think from bee­hives and high pig­tails to afros and long, flow­ing hair.

It’s where near-im­pos­si­ble cos­tume changes take place — in one in­stance a com­plete top to toe tran­si­tion in just 27 sec­onds.

“There’s no room for er­ror. It’s fun but it makes for quite a crazy en­vi­ron­ment,” deputy head of wardrobe Lucetta Sta­ple­ton says, liken­ing back­stage to the mech­a­nism of a clock — if one per­son is out of synch, ev­ery­one is. “It’s a team ef­fort, wigs, wardrobe and the cast, it de­pends on ev­ery­one do­ing their bit at the right time.

“Lit­tle things like a shoelace break can def­i­nitely get the heart rate up a bit!” BEAU­TI­FUL: THE CA­ROLE KING MU­SI­CAL OPENS AT THE SYD­NEY LYRIC THEATRE TONIGHT, TICK­ETS AT SYDNEYLYRIC. COM. AU.

Some of Beau­ti­ful’s 180 wigs are pre­pared for

the spotlight.

Es­ther Han­naford, who plays Ca­role King. All pic­tures: Sam Rut­tyn

Mike McLeish, play­ing mu­sic mogul Don

The show re­quires 170 pairs of shoes.

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