The Dressing Room by Peggy Hallett
Set in the ladies' dressing room of a community theatre company,
this story takes places in the same space every year for five
sequential years. Each scene is before, or during, an act of a yearly
musical where each of the players play various musical theatre roles
or is in the chorus.
Cast Note: all characters age one year as the play progresses through
Gail (45 55) motherly character actress, takes on many
management roles in the company (nun, farm wife, streetwalker, Mrs
Julia (4050) busy mother of teens, teacher and director of
school musicals, mother of Kaitlyn. Deals with a cancer treatment.
(nun, farm wife, stage manager, director, fork)
Kelly- (2230) very experienced musical theatre performer, vocal
director of cast, newlywed, pregnant in scene 2, on crutches scene 3
(nun, Laurey, Fantine, pirate, knife)
Zoey (2030) a millennial, cynical, wise cracker (Leisl von
Trapp, Ado Annie, streetwalker, native, plate)
Rebecca (2227), quiet and shy new crew member, art student,
suffering from depression, prop and stage manager (Eponine, pirate,
Gigi (60s) spunky older woman, grandmotherly, comedic. (Mother
Abbess, Aunt Eller, Madame T, old pirate Mr. Smee, Mrs Potts)
Liz (2535) newbie, quiet but very talented, (Maria von Trapp,
farmgirl, streetwalker, native, duster)
Kaitlyn (1317) teenage daughter of Julia, keen on musical
theatre career, becomes choreographer. (Louisa von Trapp, farmgirl,
street girl, native, Wendy, spoon)
The scene is set in a ladies' dressing room backstage at a small
community theatre. There are eight dressing tables cluttered with
makeup, hair accessories, snacks and assorted objects. There is a
motorcycle helmet and big carryall bag on one table to STAGE LEFT. One
table in the centre is empty with just a bunch of daisies in a vase,
and a framed photo as a sort of shrine.On another there is a curling
iron, buried under a scarf, a Swear Jar, and a copy of Online Dating
for Dummies. Many mirrors have on display good luck charms marking the
space. Before the dialogue there are four women very casually sitting
at the tables in various stages of undress, but robed loosely as nuns.
A poster on the bathroom door indicates this is a production of "The
Sound of Music".
(flipping through the box of programs she should be folding but is
reading one instead.) What gives? I've been in eighteen shows since
I was a kid and they still spell my name wrong. Who edited this?
(knitting) I did. Don't I always? Sor-ry Kelly. Guess I forgot
"Kelly Elizabeth van Vlymen-Pappadopoulous" has a hyphen. Why
didn't you just keep your own name when you got married?
(looking for the curling iron at each table) It's a newlywed thing.
She'll drop it soon enough.
(on her cell phone, leaning over to Gail) Gail, Gail, GailWHEN are
you going to teach me to KNIT? You've been promising for years!!
(sarcastically) Can't you learn online? YouTube?
I could, but you'd be a much better teacher. And you can fix my
(crossing across the room) Where's the curling iron?
The big one, the small one, the spiral or the flat iron?
Julia, what do you need a curling iron for? You're a nun in "The
Sound of Music".
It's for Kaitlyn. She hates that she's playing a thirteen-year-old
in braids and she wants me to curl her bangs.
But she is a thirteen-year-old. Last year she played a Munchkin in Oz.
I consider this a promotion!
(KAITLYN enters and REBECCA is behind her)
Oh, it's so much nicer in here than the kids' dressing area.
You mean this organized chaos?
(with clipboard in hand shading her eyes and headset on) Are you
Just checking. Twenty minutes to curtain. (exits)
So next time she asks if we're "decent", let's throw her a
curve! (looking for agreement from the others)
Oh Zoey don't! It's her first time as an assistant stage manager.
Be nice. She's so shy and she's dealing with a lot right now.
Were all dealing with something. It's called drama. And it's why
we LOVE it!
No, it's not like that for her. She's in a pretty good place,
right now, but a couple of months ago she was in pretty bad shape. You
know she's my next door neighbour.
(standing) Oh, you mean she's got depression! Like it's the
newest coolest trend.
GAIL, KELLY, KAITLYN, JULIA
Seriously Zoey, you can be so insensitive sometimes. Yes, lots of
people suffer from depression. No, it's not new
It's just new that we talk about it more. I like Rebecca. She told
me her older sister was really into musical theatre but she never
understood what she loved about it.
It was her sister who suggested she get involved in something like
this. She's been fantastic backstage, very detail oriented.
Oh, I get it. So now we're some sort of therapy? (then sits and
dismissively puts her earbuds in. Starts reading "Online Dating for
GAIL, KELLY, KAITLYN, JULIA
What? Isn't she here to make her life better. You know, a reason to
get out of bed in the morning!!?
God, you're awful. She's here for her own reasons. Like all of us.
( walking to Zoey to show her a program Rebecca designed) It doesn't
matter why any of us are here. But I must tell you, she's a great artist!
Yes. Not only did she help with the set painting, but she's designed
some excellent props. Ah! Here it is! (pulls out the curling iron from
under some scarves and gives it to KAITLYN.)
(takes the curling iron and plugs it in front of JULIA's table.)
Thanks. (crossing over to ZOEY) Can I borrow that ruby lipstick you
(reading and bopping to music on her earbuds. Puts down book and meets
KAITLYN centre stage with lipstick) Aren't you supposed to be a
little Austrian girl?
Yeah, but on stage, like, all lips need a little colour. (walking back
to JULIA's table) Right, Kelly? You've been in shows since you
Eight. My breakout role was Molly, the sweetest little orphan in "Annie"!
(removing earbuds) Yeah, the sweetest because your grandma was the
producer? (Goes to check her jacket pocket in the closet)
And wasn't your mom the director?
Yeeeees, (somewhat reprimanding) but let's be fair to Kelly. (moves
to KELLY) She's earned every role. And now she's a graduate of the
Musical Theatre program at the college.
And teaching most of our drama classes and acting workshops.
And our awesome vocal director, so be nice!
(arriving back at her stool) Me? I'm always nice. Hey, I'm a nun
aren't I? (spinning around centre stage doing funky dance moves.
Then goes back to her phone)
So Kelly was your first kiss a theatre kiss?
Sure thing, but I was playing a teenage fan in Bye Bye Birdie.
(notices JULIA is struggling with the curling iron and offers to take
over, while handing off the box of programs she was supposed to be
And was he gay?
No, not at all! (pausing) I think and the kiss wasn't in the
script! The best kind. (giggling with KAITLYN) Gotta love me a little
(sitting in front of JULIA's mirror) Kelly, was it hard to get into
the program? I mean, I know you have tons of experience, and you sing
so great but is the competition, like, really rough? I'm sure there are
(Offhandedly) Oh yeah, there's plenty of talented kids auditioning.
(Thinks a minute then decides to be encouraging) But, let me give you
a hint. You'll have an edge if you diversify. That was my secret.
Try to earn all about the theatre, not just on stage. Try your hand at
stage managing and even set construction. Learn about lighting.
Don't just focus on performing. (nudging) You know I can always
use a helper with the kid's Saturday classes.
She already takes voice and two dance classes. Pretty busy. But maybe
your dad should teach you some basic carpentry? You've been around
plenty of set builds already.
(cynical) There's an old joke about musical theatre graduates,
One we haven't heard?
Goes something like this: "If you have a degree in musical theatre,
you may not know how to solve a math problem. (pauses) But you can
ZOEY and GAIL
(singing) 'solve a problem like Maria!!'"
Cute! Kaitlyn, you're only in Grade Eight. You've got years. When
the time comes, I'll coach you through it.
(happily) Would you? I want to hear about all your roles. So which
was your favourite? I bet it was Roxy Hart? Or maybe Mary Poppins?
Hmmm not Maria von Trapp?
(shocked) Wait! What? You've played Maria in "The Sound of
Music" before? So how come you're not playing her now?
ZOEY, KELLY, GAIL and JULIA
(softly) shhh. Liz is in there. ( Indicating the closed bathroom
(whispering to KELLY) So how come they let the new girl play Maria?
You've heard her sing and you still wonder? She's fantastic!
And we always need some new blood around here. Sometimes this is a
small town and getting people to come out to auditions, or just
volunteering for anything is tough.
I know. I know. That's why my dad builds scenery and my Grandma has
been running the Front of the House for years.
(steps out of the bathroom and adjusts her costume as Maria, the
postulant nun. She has her wimple in hand.) Oh no! Was I not supposed
to flush the toilet? The stage manager was pretty insistent about that
when she laid down the backstage rules.
(walking to her to assure her) No, no, it's fine. You can flush,
just not once the show starts.
The pipes in this old theatre rattle right out to the audience.
We've had some funny mishaps though. Years ago we had a hilarious
flushing sound during "Jesus Christ Superstar" right at the
crucifixion scene. (laughing with the others)
Yeah, but it was during a dress rehearsal. (giggling) Not as funny as
the time Toto took a poop on stage. Still my favourite moment.
(LIZ at her table STAGE RIGHT is struggling with her wimple piece)
Here, let me help you with that. (She moves to Liz's table and
starts fussing with the wimple.) Want some more blush too?
A little. Thanks.
(quietly indicating the bathroom) You okay in there? A little
But you're great! You've sung in public before. And you've been
nailing the rehearsals.
Well School choirs, church choirs. It's not the same.
But that's just it. You bring a real sense of freshness to the
role of Maria.
(Pokes head in the door) Are you ladies decent?
If we were indecent we'd be playing hookers, not nuns!
Mic check for the von Trapp kids, one minute Kaitlyn. (she closes the
Be right there.
(pondering) So Rebecca is an art student and made some of the props
too? Huh She's managing props and she's an assistant to the
stage manager. Okay, I'm impressed.
(quietly to GAIL, but gesturing towards KELLY who raises eyebrows with
the question) Was Kelly okay with this? I heard she's played Maria
before. And she has all that experience.
Don't worry about her. She's fine. And she can be very gracious
when others have leads and she doesn't. After all, she's an
actress! I have a feeling she was happier with the lighter rehearsal
schedule this time. She's a newlywed!!
So am I. And we've only been in Kingston about a year. We both got
great new jobs with Corrections Canada.
(teasing) What! Are you one of those tough prison guards, ready to
take down the big guys?
(laughing) No, no, I'm a psychologist and my husband is an
(entering with her robe open) Full house for opening night chicas!
(arm to the audience and pointing) And my Aunt Genevieve is front and
centre. As usual!
(waving the air) Oh Gigi, you wreak of cigarette smoke. (sprays around
with her air freshener)
Strange. I was smoking a cigar.
Seriously? And you our Mother Abbess.
(flops onto her stool FAR STAGE LEFT) Relax. I was just having a few
drags with some of the band members out back. And, shit, I'm only
playing the old broad Mother Abbess because I'm the only old broad
in this company.
(Pushes the swear jar towards GIGI and jiggles it.)
You're killing me kid. I have to keep loonies in all my pockets for
this swear jar. (drops coin in the jar)
It's cuz there's kids in the cast.
Maybe I'll reprint our program. "The Kingston Mellowtones proudly
present: Rogers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" featuring
that perennial old broad Gigi Jones as Mother Abbess."
Hey, if it sells more tickets!
It'll zip up our radio ads.
Thanks Kelly. (to everyone and as she leaves she puts Swear Jar on
Daisy's table) 'Break a leg' ladies. Back to the kids'
dressing room or should I say, "space"! (exits)
(calling to her) Appreciate it! We have to pay extra to rent that
Yeah, and I hope they don't trash it like our orphans from
"Oliver!". We were cleaning up every night that year.
I'd take the kids' dressing space over the men's dressing room
any day! That man cave is nasty. Down the far dark corridor, then
three steps down. Like a dungeon.
(knitting and looking down, to Zoey who is still on her phone) Are you
always on that thing? I swear Zoey, you rarely look up anymore.
Yup, got her head in the clouds over Adam. (moves to Zoey's side)
(Not looking up) Adam! Oh he's so last month.
Last month? I thought last month it was Jordan. Or Paul, John, Tom
I can't keep them straight.
(walks up to centre stage to take a selfie) I can, and right now
I'll have you know, it's Daniel.
Will we ever meet any of these mystery men after the show?
I remember meeting Matthew once, or was that Mark.
(walking back to her stool ) It was Michael, and that was just last
year. Daniel is in Montreal so you might meet him later.
(pokes head in) Ladies are you de (enters) Oh whatever. Gigi, have
you got a green marker? Mine just died.
(rummages in her bag, holds up two green) Which one?
Dark, thanks. (exits)
(Sees ZOEY taking another selfie) Zoey, I don't think nuns wear that
Hey, I'm only a nun in the first act, and in the back of the choir
hidden by my wimple. I don't want to reapply anything when I
transform into a horny (sings) "I am sixteen going on seventeen".
(opens her nun robe to reveal that she is Liesl von Trapp)
Horny? How about suppressed?
Every woman was suppressed before the 70s (looks around the room
and crosses to the wardrobe) for those of us who remember! (going
through pockets of clothes looking for something) Hey, did we find
someone to operate the curtain?
Yeah, I got Francois to help us out.
Francois? Isn't he your exchange student from France? The cute
[End of Extract]