For several months now, I have been an avid follower of the blog “The Backstage Blonde” which is written by Teale Dvornik. Teale lives in New York City and has a job in the theatre industry that often isn’t recognized by those outside of the industry. She works as a dresser on Broadway, currently for the cast of Wicked.
So what exactly is a dresser?
A dresser keeps an actor’s costumes clean, organized, and put together. Often dressers will conduct quick changes, wash and put away used costumes, and tend to a performer’s needs throughout the show.
I recently had the honor to interview Teale about her unique job, and I can’t express how excited I was for this interview. As a blogger myself, there’s no one in the theatre industry that I look up to as much as Teale, not to mention, she has a pretty spectacular sense of style- just look at these photos!
She was inspired to start her blog when she was in college and was struggling to find someone in the industry that shared their experiences as a dresser online. She describes The Backstage Blonde as “the blog I always wanted to read so I wanted to create it for all the kids out there like me with big dreams and a passion for Broadway”.
Without further ado, here is my interview with Teale!
SUTTELL: What was your very first experience on Broadway as a dresser?
DVORNIK: My very first experience as a Broadway dresser was on January 4, 2015 at Wicked. I was hired as a swing dresser and was first taught a female ensemble dressing track. It was the best day ever!
SUTTELL: What are the some of the skills required to become a dresser on Broadway?
DVORNIK: A dresser needs sewing skills, to be quick on their feet, a fast problem solver, and organized!
SUTTELL: How do you keep energized when repeating the same process each night for such a long running show?
DVORNIK: Great question! I think the key is having a life outside of work and getting a lot of rest. Everyone at Wicked has families and interests other than theatre. Another thing that helps is building relationships with people at the show. I love hearing people’s stories and about their experiences working at other shows so that definitely keeps each night interesting!
During her time as a dresser, Teale has also worked as a “swing dresser”, meaning that she would get to fill in a dresser’s spot or role whenever someone was on vacation or sick. Teale was a swing dresser for both Wicked and Aladdin, and knew several different “tracks”, or jobs.
SUTTELL: What was your experience as a swing dresser like?
DVORNIK: Exhilarating, stressful, uncertain, empowering, challenging, wonderful. I loved being a swing dresser! I knew 16 different dressing tracks between Wicked and Aladdin. Bouncing between the two shows was so much fun and kept things fresh and interesting!
Now for some of the fun questions about the job…
SUTTELL: Who is your favorite character to dress/what shows have you worked on?
DVORNIK: I really love dressing Glinda and Elphaba! Those tracks are so fun and challenging in the best way. But my favorite show I have ever worked on is definitely Aladdin. Every single day in that theatre was an absolute blast and I met some of my best friends there.
SUTTELL: What is the quickest change you have to do each night?
DVORNIK: My track at Wicked actually doesn’t have any crazy fast changes. I do have to change two girls into their party dresses in under two minutes but that is an eternity in our world. The fastest change at Wicked is with the witches at the very beginning of “One Short Day”. They get quick changed in under 15 seconds.
As I wrap up this interview, some of you may be wondering where you can find more information about being a dresser! Be sure to check out Teale’s blog, The Backstage Blonde, or some other articles I’ve found such as an Interview with Something Rotten Dresser Lacie Bonanni, or this article by Playbill.com.
Special thank you to Teale Dvornik for giving me the amazing opportunity to interview you, and thank you for being one of my inspirations!