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    Posted October 20, 2006

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"Color Purple" Company Appreciates Its Dressers

Brandon Victor Dixon and dresser Lizz Hirons
Photo: Walter McBride

"We wanted to show our dressers how much they mean to us", said Felicia P. Fields, who, along with cast members LaTrisa A. Coleman, Krisha Marcano and Angela Robinson, organized the first "Dresser Appreciation Day" celebrated between shows of THE COLOR PURPLE on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at the Broadway Theatre.

Krisha Marcano and dresser Fred Castner
Photo: Walter McBride

All fourteen dressers were invited to a buffet dinner and surprise party in the lower lobby, paid for the by the cast. Brandon Victor Dixon and Kimberly Ann Harris contributed delicious home-made desserts; Doug Eskew and Bobby Daye tended bar (non-alcoholic!); while other cast members served the dressers at a long banquet table, (provided by Rick Dalcortivo), festooned with party balloons and floral centerpiece. Spirits ran high during high during the 90 minute celebration. At half-hour, everyone was backstage to prepare for the evening's performance.

Virginia Ann Woodruff and dresser Dora Bonilla
Photo: Walter McBride

LaChanze, who plays "Celie," thought it was "a great idea" to sit down and take a break with all those with whom the actors "have a very personal and intimate relationship." After all, she said, they "see the actors naked every day."

Kimberly Ann Harris, who plays "Church Lady Doris," said that "dressers are really underappreciated. They help us immeasurably, so that there's not a wrinkle or a missing accessory on our costumes. They keep our spirits up!"

Dresser Valerie Frith and Felicia P. Fields
Photo: Walter McBride

Virginia Ann Woodruff, who plays "Church Lady Darlene," had previously worked with her dresser in ALL SHOOK UP. "They keep us all together," she commented. Chorus actor Charles Gray, added appreciatively that "dressers are the most stable thing in the building."

Zipporah Gatling, dresser Sonja Suzuki, Chantylla Johnson and Ricky Smith
Photo: Walter McBride

Krisha Marcano, who plays "Squeak," said: "Dressers are the unsung heroes of the theatre, and work with the actors on a personal level, negotiating our personalities, keeping us calm and ready to work. They deserve praise, recognition and Dresser Appreciation Day."

Brandon Victor Dixon baked a special cake for the occasion
Photo: Walter McBride

At the conclusion, Ms. Fields, who portrays "Sophia," summed it all up: "You (the dressers) are really underappreciated. While we (the cast) get to go out in front of the footlights every night, the dressers work backstage, without any applause, to make sure we look our best. You have to put up with good days, bad days and egos of all sizes, and you're always wonderfully supportive. In fact, we couldn't do the show without you."

Photo: Walter McBride

Felicia hopes Dresser Appreciation Day spreads to other shows and becomes an annual event.

Dressers at The Color Purple include Dora Bonilla, Renee Brunson, Fred Castner, Christina Dailey, Suzanne Delahunt, Tracey Diebold, Valerie Frith, Maureen George, Betty A. Gillispie, Allison Goodsell, David Grevengoed, Lizz Hirons, James Hodun, Dora Suarez and Jay Woods.

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