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Hands-On Broadway Experience with Broadway Classroom

May 16th, 2011

Paul West (L) Joseph Pedro (Me) (R)

Last week, Marketing Manager Paul West and I traded our computers for buttons and our phones for costumes, as we participated in a hands-on experience called Broadway Classroom, a program that offers private workshops for groups. These mini lessons, conducted by Broadway vets, give participants an insider’s look into the inner workings of a Broadway show of your choice. The best part is, once you’re done in the classroom you go see the show that you just learned all about.

See what happens to Paul and I after the jump…

Paul and I jumped on board one of the most popular classroom experiences called “the Art of the Quick Change.” This fast-paced workshop dissolves the stage illusion that characters magically and effortless change costumes. The fabulous Billy Hipkins (Wardrobe Department, The Phantom of the Opera), the multi-talented Kris Koop Ouelette (Mme. Firmin,The Phantom of the Opera), and the ebullient Scotty Westervelt (Wardrobe Professional, WonderlandThe Phantom of the Opera) all worked with us to get a seemingly impossible wardrobe change that occurs during the Phantom of the Opera down to a science. The scene has the character of Carlotta change her outfit in 30 seconds. Instead of the 50-plus-pound costumes used in the show, we used Salvation Army costumes, and we also cheated by keeping the lights on (in the real show it is pitch black). Of course, mayhem ensued as we tried to do the change in 30 seconds, but it was a true lesson in team building. Paul and I only hated one another for a few seconds. Afterward, it was enlightening to chat with the men and women that make this “illusion” happen every night. Billy said the change was somewhat like clockwork after a while, but still brought excitement to this art. And despite this, we gushed and gushed over how difficult his job must be and how much respect we had for him…even though ten minutes prior, we both didn’t ever once think about who changes actors’ costumes.

This is just one of more than 20 different workshops that Broadway Classrooms has on offer. The workshops were originally designed for students, but more and more groups of friends and families (even grandma) are joining in on the action. Workshops include everything from learning songs and choreography to figuring out the technical aspects of a show. Get a big, gay group together, and I challenge you not to have a blast. The team at is there to create a bespoke theater experience for you. So. choose your show, the workshop that interests you the most, and let them know the size of your group (from two to as many as 30+), and be prepared for new insights into the theatre, stronger bond among friends/family, and maybe a Broadway boyfriend (we hear the adorable James Brown III is teaching a class).

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