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See How They Run - Life on Tour

By Emma Louise Bennett

See How They Run starring Warwick Davis is currently touring the UK and comes to Manchester Opera House this month!

We spoke to Kirsty Blades who told us all about life on tour with See How They Run... A day in the life of a Wardrobe Mistress.

The See How They Run Tour Bus

Monday. It’s time for the Get In!

This is where all the set and costumes for the tour are loaded into the theatre for the week ahead.

First thing on a Monday morning dressing rooms are allocated, washing is piled into the machines, and wardrobe skips are unloaded from the van. 

There are a few important differences with this tour, firstly, the dressing rooms on stage level are prioritised for those with lesser mobility.

Secondly, I have to think about the height of the rails in the rooms so the cast can be as self sufficient as possible.

Behind the Scenes

Once all the costumes have been cleaned, mended, pressed and put into rooms, I start work on dusting hats and polishing shoes.

We also have two wigs in the show, so I spend some time redressing these.

When the time comes, and I've had my quick change areas set up and lit, I start to think about the evening show and what costumes need to be set at stage level.

All the rails we use are of reduced height, so the cast can help themselves if needs be.

Press Day

Tuesday is usually promotion day, so the cast are called early for hair and to get into costume. They usually have a photo call, so I spend an hour or so following the cast around a location reminding them to do their buttons up, pull their hats up to stop shadow over their eyes, and to watch their hair (if they have any!) in the wind etc etc, whilst be photographed for usually local press.

The cast attending a press call

When it comes to shows I arrive into the building first to start the washing and ironing. Very glamorous! In the meantime I work through maintenance notes, do some show shopping, and take washing to dressing rooms. I then start my pre-set. This is any costumes that are changed into on Stage Level during the show.. And there are good few!

Make Up & Hair

Then, an hour before the half, I start working on the Girl's hair.

I set Fran Mill's hair into a 1940's updo with victory rolls everyday, and I Pin Curl Rachel and Frankie's. It's getting them to sit still that's the real challenge though!

During the half hour call, I put the girls into wigs, pin hats and headdresses, tie shoe laces, check buttons are done up properly.

There are a few pieces of under dressing, so I check that those who do, have! Then the show goes on!

Quick Change!

It's a busy show for the wardrobe department, with lots of quick changes, on both sides of the stage and costumes doubling as props.

My quickest change is with actor Phil Holden who plays Lance-Corporal Clive Winton. He has to get changed in 20 seconds with a live microphone and a very small space!

My show plot is something I work on during rehearsals, figuring where I need to be and who needs what.

We used to take bets on whether Fran Mills would remember her quick change when we first started the tour, she remembers now though... (touch wood!)

More tea Vicar?

There's a lot of liquid in the show too, so I have to keep eyes open for whether people come off stage with drink down themselves.

I go through a lot of lint rollers too because of the amount of black suits in the show, and the amount of rolling around there is.

Once the shows finished I check all the costumes are hung up properly and do some washing ready for the next show!

See How They Run is at Manchester Opera House from 29 April - 3 May. Tickets for See How They Run are available online and by calling 0844 871 3018