• Follow BBBway on Twitter

  • Boneau/Bryan-Brown on LinkedIn
  • This Just In:

  • BBBway Tweets

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • wordpress stats


The Wall Street Journal

November 6, 2009


A Dressing Room of One’s Own

For stars like Carrie Fisher and Gina Gershon, the backstage getaway gets a makeover


Never mind the star on the door. Actors on Broadway are getting something even better with their dressing rooms: their own interior designer.


With celebrities continuing their steady march to Broadway, the drafty dressing room with exposed pipes and worn carpet is getting an upgrade. Productions are helping provide their star performers with lush, professionally created backstage getaways. The dressing-room makeover serves several purposes: a perk for the actor, exposure for the show and a marketing opportunity for interior designers who are trying to build a brand.

This season, the press office for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s “Wishful Drinking” brought in HGTV interior designer and architect John Gidding to personalize a space for actress, author and “Star Wars” icon Carrie Fisher during her current one-woman show at Studio 54.

Ms. Fisher relaxes backstage amid candy-colored stripes on the walls, an electrified neon strip in the bathroom (a nod to the theater’s disco past) and “Star Wars” kitsch scattered around, including a painting of a white poodle with Princess Leia buns. Mr. Gidding recalls Ms. Fisher telling him she has pictures of funny-looking kids in her Los Angeles home, so he also hung up a photo of a child with big ears. “It’s someone’s baby that someone I know knows,” he says, adding that the parents don’t know their child’s face has been repurposed as dressing-room décor.


“He took a room that looked like an emergency room and made it into a playroom, with emergency room overtones,” Ms. Fisher said in an email. “A place where I have room to grow.”

Unlike a trailer on a movie set—often just a locker room between takes—theater dressing rooms can be second homes, personal spaces about as big as the New York apartments of many aspiring actors. In these rooms, actors entertain, get into character, eat and nap between eight performances a week. When Marléne Danielle left her dressing room after 18 years in “Cats”—the only cat to last the full run—she found the move emotionally wrenching.

“It was … a very, very comforting, secure place,” Ms. Danielle says of the dressing room she shared with more than a dozen other women. “You may come to work feeling horrible—’Oh my God, I don’t want to perform today.’ You have a chance to speak to someone who will get you through whatever you’re going through: breakups, deaths, marriages, sicknesses, you name it.”

Gina Gershon, who stars in “Bye Bye Birdie,” felt claustrophobic in her dressing room below street level at Henry Miller’s Theatre. She was horrified by the harsh fluorescent lighting and gray walls. “It literally looked like a prison cell,” she says. So she worked with interior-designer and artist friends to brighten the room, including placing a movable window frame over a large photo of the ocean to create an “ocean view.” She added a machine that plays sounds of seagulls and crashing waves. “It’s like a psychological thing,” she says. “It helps me feel calm instead of feeling like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t breathe.'”

“Birdie” co-star John Stamos favored an “old Broadway look” for his dressing room, whose makeover was occasioned by a segment on the “Rachael Ray Show.” HGTV host and interior designer Carter Oosterhouse turned the drab room into a red-and-black lair, then added a framed Playbill from the 1960 Broadway production signed by original cast members Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera. (On “Rachel Ray,” Mr. Stamos vowed to kiss the picture of Ms. Rivera before every show.) Mr. Oosterhouse was able to collect about $10,000 in mostly donated furnishings for the project, and in turn he promoted West Elm products in the segment.

Click here to read the full article:




%d bloggers like this: