Our lovely friend, Shana Albery, who’s worked as a wardrobe supervisor for productions like Memphis and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, gave us more tips on how to run any show like a Broadway show. She told us which items she keeps on hand when she’s working on a production… and we just had to share. Here are 7 items you should always have backstage!
1. Safety pins
“Forever and always!” These are one of the best items to have accessible, since they can hold almost anything together. If a hem comes undone, you can “sew” it back in place with some safety pins. Easy-peasy!
It’s always dark backstage, so you’re going to want a flashlight. You can use a headlight or a bite light, which you literally bite to turn on or off and keep your hands free. Just make sure it’s one you can keep with you at all times!
Topstick is a double-sided tape commonly used to adhere a part of a costume to an actor’s skin to keep it in the right place, but you can use it for anything! You can put a hem back together if you can’t find safety pins or stick shoe rubber back down when it starts to come loose.
4. Baby Wipes
You’ll want these on hand if you need to quickly remove a stain. “For all stains, you generally want to start with the baby wipes because it’s the least abrasive. They’ll take out most stains without taking the color out of the fabric.”
5. Baby Powder
When the dance rubber starts sticking to the stage (especially when there’s humidity), baby powder is the “easiest, quickest, most reversible fix.” Throw some on so it doesn’t stick as much and as the humidity goes back to normal, so will the shoe as the powder falls off.
6. Shoe supplies
When an actor is dancing and moving around on stage, shoes that fit are a must. “If someone has slippery shoes, you can put a shoe grip on the ball of the foot to stop them from slipping around.” Likewise, you can use heel grips if the shoes are a little big and insoles to comfort aching feet.
7. First-aid Kit
Sometimes accidents happen, so it’s better to be prepared ahead of time. You might already have a first-aid kit backstage, so make sure it’s stocked up with all the necessary items. It also doesn’t hurt to keep a few band-aids on you at all times, just in case!
Some other useful items to have on hand include scissors, a sewing kit, a lint roller, extra shoelaces, paper towels, and a blow dryer, which Shana says can be used to quickly dry up any wet spots. And if you need to organize all these items, she recommends an over-the-door shoe organizer. The ones with the clear plastic pockets work best, since you can easily see everything and grab what you need when the time comes.
Break a leg!