The four actors in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” probably work harder backstage than onstage as they plow through about 50 costumes a night.
“Most of them are fast changes, some of them are lightning fast,” says costume designer Pamela Scofield. “There are very few that are leisurely.”
Three crew members work backstage — one for wardrobe, one to help change sets, and Wendy Loomis, the assistant stage manager, who helps out with both.
Loomis, who has been with the show since she helped load in the set 10 years ago, says one actor’s switch into his Italian waiter outfit is particularly stressful.
“He’s underdressing for the rest of act one,” she says, meaning that he has to layer his costumes. “You have to have the tux shirt, and over tux shirt. You have the dickie and over the dickie. You have to have the chef’s outfit. And he barely makes it every day. Every single guy that has done that role has had trouble.”
Another quick change involves one actress’s switch into the wedding dress for the last scene in act one.
As Loomis explains, “She’s got to take her own chair offstage, take off her pantsuit, step into shoes, step into the dress. The wardrobe person has to pull it up, zip it up and put a veil on her head and she’s gone.”
“It all happens within 15 seconds,” says Jodie Langel, the actress currently enduring the routine every night. “There was a time where there was a sub on, and she didn’t quite have the zipper on the wedding gown down, and it got caught on my hair.” Langel ran on late for her song.
Scofield was not the original designer, but the producers hired her six years ago to change the costumes to a style more reflective of what men and women wear in the current century.
“People think designing a contemporary show is easy,” Scofield says, “but it’s always harder, because people in the audience have different ideas about what contemporary clothes means.”
The show has run for so long that even Scofield has had to change the costumes to match changing fashions. “It has to do with a more relaxed look,” she says. “A lot of it has to do with lengths of hemlines.”
She also realized that women now wear shorter tops and wear pants on the hipbone. “When short, hooded sweatshirts were popular two summers ago,” the designer says, she added one. “You should probably throw out everything and start over every six months. But that would be prohibitively expensive.”