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Dressers Career Spotlight: Lauren Gallitelli Talks Dressing Santino Fontana In TOOTSIE
We're spotlighting different off-stage careers on Broadway to answer some common questions people might have about perusing a career off the stage!
This week we're chatting with Lauren Gallitelli, who is Santino Fontana's dresser at TOOTSIE on Broadway! Gallitelli has worked on Broadway at shows such as Cinderella, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Sister Act, and more!
What does a typical day look like for a Broadway dresser?
Dressers typically come to the theatre an hour before half hour, so an hour and a half before the show starts. We'll check in with the wardrobe supervisors to see if any actors are out that show and then we will collect laundry for our actors and head to their dressing rooms to prep their costumes and get everything ready for the show. Costume prep may include ironing, steaming and checking for repairs. Sometimes we have costumes to pre set before the show for quick changes later. With Santino I help organize fan mail, do a coffee run, and make sure all 6 of his water bottles are filled. Sometimes I run lines with him for auditions which is one of my favorite things to do. After the show I help escort guests to his dressing room and then walk him to the stage door. I chat with his driver while he signs autographs and then I head back inside to gather up his laundry and tidy up.
How many dressers work on Tootsie and what are their respective duties?
There are seven dressers on Tootsie plus our supervisor and assistant supervisor. Each dresser is assigned to a group of actors that they are responsible for. All but two of the dressers assist me on a quick change at some point in the show. There are two major changes where we change Santino from Michael to Dorothy in twenty six seconds. He goes from a shirt, jacket, shoes, pants and a hat to a dress, heels, bracelets, necklace, earrings, glasses, wig and makeup and sometimes nails so there are four dressers and two hair/makeup people that are working together all at once to make that happen.
What type of education did you pursue before working on Broadway? Which skills were most critical to the work you do now?
In college I studied Theatre production and design with a concentration in costumes at Long Island University: CW Post. The sewing skills I learned at school are what has helped me get the most jobs. It's not my favorite thing to do but I have gotten three really great jobs that lasted years and eventually led to dressing work just because I knew how to sew.
How important was your education toward your Broadway career?
Being so close to the city in college was great for helping me start a career on Broadway. I was able to start to learn my way around the city and it's where I met my friend Brittany Jones Pugh who recommended me for my first job. I'm not sure I would have gotten a job on Broadway as quickly as I did if it wasn't for her.
How did you book your first professional job? Your first Broadway job?
I was lucky enough to know I had a job on Broadway before I graduated college all because the friend I mentioned before recommended me to a supervisor she had been working with. I had my interview a few weeks before I graduated and started my first job in September.
What do you look for in prospective hires/interns?
I will always recommend someone who is a hard worker and has a positive attitude. Personality is such a huge part of what we do and someone who truly enjoys coming to work and is happy to be there makes all the difference.
If someone wanted to reach out to a Broadway dresser about internships or mentorship opportunities, what would you recommend?
Dropping your resume off at a stage door and asking the doorman if the supervisor is available to hand it to is a great way to put a face with a name. The best thing you can do is get as much experience as you can by doing summer stock theatre or working off Broadway. Never say no to a job when you're first starting out. You will meet a lot of people this way and you only need one person to recommend you for a job and then your good reputation will help you to get other jobs.
What's the best part of being a Broadway dresser?
The best part about being a Broadway dresser is getting to work with so many amazing people both onstage and off stage. You work so closely with a lot of different people on a show and spend a lot of time together which forms really close friendships.
What is the hardest part of being a Broadway dresser?
One of the hardest things about working on Broadway is the schedule. Right now my kids are young and not in school yet so I get to spend the whole day with them before I go to work which I love! But we work weekends and some holidays so I miss out on a lot of the fun family stuff.
What one bit of advice do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
Take advantage of your benefits and everything the union has to offer and start your 401k right away! Someone actually did tell me about the 401k when I was just starting out, but I was 22 and didn't really understand it then. So I would recommend educating yourself early so you can make smart decisions. Also, don't be afraid of being exactly who you are. The theatre community is a very accepting place.
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