Flying By the Seat of Her Pants

Flying By the Seat of Her Pants The wardrobe supervisor for When Pigs Fly had to become a quick-change artist herself

The wardrobe supervisor for When Pigs Fly had to become a quick-change artist herself

A year ago, Amy Carll got off a bus in New York City with a suitcase, a phone book and a brand-new degree in costume design from Ithaca College. After a month plus of odd jobs, which included building a giant tick for the Letterman show, she began her odyssey as wardrobe supervisor for Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly, the Off-Broadway musical hit, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

"During the interview," Carll recalls, "they described the job as 'a little show with five actors and some costumes.' I thought, 'All right, I could do that.' Who knew?"

Carll soon discovered that the whimsical costume-driven production required 76 quick changes in 110 minutes. "I'm thinking, 'This is a small problem.' I'm thinking, 'What have I gotten myself into?' I'm thinking, 'Okay, so this is my challenge.' "

Backstage at When Pigs Fly, Carll now runs a one-woman show of her own. "It's organized chaos. Everybody has a 'flight' pattern, otherwise you get run over. That's why it's hard to find someone to substitute for me. People laugh at me when I tell them what they have to do."

The piece de resistance is the finale. Carll has two minutes to dress five people in "Crabtree Couture," starting with Stanley's Bojarski's seven-piece garden supply costume. As Stanley puts on the last part, Ray Friedeck runs offstage to don the 45-pound, 8-piece watch repair costume. By the time Carll clips this across his back, David Pevsner is undressed and ready to slip into his eight-piece plumbing extravaganza. Carll lifts the shower curtain section over his head, hangs it on his shoulders and lets David clip the rest, because Jay Rogers has just arrived to change into his seven-piece chicken farming costume. After Carll dresses him, she has ten seconds to hang up what David has thrown off before Michael West runs down the stairs to step into the big white cowboy jump suit that lights up. Despite the hectic pace, the cast finds time to kid Carll. "I had to stop wearing my overhauls to work, because Jay Rogers would unclip them so they'd fall off. I'm standing there in my underwear, and I can't take the time to pull them up."

"I've never sent anyone onstage naked," she laughs although every night something drops off, breaks or rips. The mermaid needs help with her fins. The horse just got a new tail. Once the pig's nipples fell off. Carl just reglued them.

"This show lets you dream a little bit," says Carll. "There's an element that makes you realize you can do anything you want. The costumes are so crazy, just huge, creative and beautiful. This was Howard's dream. I love making that come true."

-- By Starla Smith