The Santa Rosa Theater is calling for volunteers willing to dress, sew and glue

If Mae Heagerty-Matos, Costume Shop Manager at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse, were to write a job description, she could say the gig involves nerve of steel, mental agility, a problem-solving mentality, and a self-starting will.

It also requires the ability to work well with others and a commitment to working nights and weekends. And that takes someone who can maintain an even keel in high stress situations.

The best part? This “work” is entirely voluntary.

The concert?

Chest of drawers at the 6th Street Playhouse.

What exactly, you may ask, is a dresser? Don’t worry, me too.

A dresser is the person who stands right offstage during a theater production who helps actors get out of costumes and into dresses, lace up boots and unbutton jackets.

It’s the person who knows the scene as well as the actors because they know that the change of costume for this scene must be completed in 17 seconds, while the change of the next can be done at the leisurely pace of 44 seconds. .

“It gives (people) a whole new perspective on how a show is made and how a show becomes a show,” Heagerty-Matos said. “It’s the inner workings of what you see on stage. You can be part of the magic.

It’s a whirlwind of volunteer work, sure, but the folks at the theater house say it’s brilliant. They also say they need to strengthen their ranks.

“It’s like the pit team”

“You learn the moves of quick change,” said longtime 6th Street Playhouse costume designer Tracy Hinman. “Someone pulls down her dress. Someone else puts her bra on. This guy goes from boy to girl. Quick. It’s like the pit crew come in and change the tires.

Live theater is back. Sure, it’s on hiatus with the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the shows are about to start again, it takes a village to keep them running.

“Hair” now opens with a preview on February 11, and “The Legend of Georgia McBride” has been pushed back to a February 17 opening night.

“It’s four to five weeks, every weekend, and you’re talking Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Heagerty-Matos said.

This means dress rehearsals, evening shows and matinees.

“A lot of times (the volunteers) are actors, they have friends in the show, or it’s someone who wants to get involved in theatre,” she said. “It’s a great way for them to get a sense of how a show works. You can view a show from the backstage perspective rather than the audience’s perspective.

And that can be exciting, said Celina Kegerreis.

Kegerreis started volunteering with 6th Street Playhouse in 2013 – when she was 14. The production was “Victor/Victoria”.

By her tally, she’s been part of 27 shows now, going from dresser to stage manager.

“I totally fell in love with it,” she said.

As a quick-change dresser, Kegerreis has learned to come up with a plan with every actor she works with.

Some actors like clothes laid out so they can fit in, right down to boots without laces. Others want to lay it out themselves, but may need help with a quick zip.

Kegerreis is there to solve problems anyway.

“I had a show where the zipper wouldn’t close and it was like a moment of panic panic because it was a very, very quick change and we couldn’t get the dress off and we had like three actors who held her,” she mentioned.

“Finally I just grabbed some safety pins and had to pin the safety in the back and had to put a piece of fabric behind it so the audience wouldn’t know ‘Oh it’s a dress without zipper “.”

“They’re all such fun people”

Not everyone who volunteers on 6th Street wants to be, or is needed, behind the scenes.

A group of people spend hours every week mending suits, ironing shirts and pants, and gluing on rhinestones.

The theater also needs more people.

Last week, Rohnert Park volunteer Jeannette Peters sat in front of a sewing machine gluing green tulle to white fabric that had been sewn onto a straw sun hat.

It was to suit Scarlett O’Hara for a scene in the upcoming production of “Hair.”

Peters, who has volunteered at the costume shop for years, said that although she is an amateur costume designer who is familiar with a sewing machine and a glue gun, novices are welcome here.

“There are a lot of things I didn’t know and someone showed me how to do it. It’s like a little workshop in that sense too, in that we all learn from each other,” she said. “And they are all such fun, friendly and helpful people.”

Across the room, volunteer Haley Boaz from Windsor was creating a combination of a hoop skirt and shirt that the actor playing O’Hara can step into, get up and be in full dress in a matter of seconds. seconds.

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