Women on Top: Teale Dvornik
We think Teale Dvornik is wicked cool. Her blog, The Backstage Blonde, shows fans what it's like to work behind the curtain with insider tips, including how to successfully stage door (teach us your ways, Teale!). As a Broadway dresser currently working at Wicked, Teale walks through that door every night. “It’s pretty incredible, getting to be friends with witches and Disney princesses," she says.
“As a dresser, on a day-to-day basis you are in charge of keeping all the costumes looking great, and I’m backstage with the actors quick-changing them in and out of their costumes between scenes. So I dress the female ensemble, and the costumes range from flying monkeys to all their green Emerald City costumes to when they’re all in college at Shiz University. And it’s cool because you’re literally working with the best people in the entire world at what they do, and everyone just wants you to succeed.”
You said that this is your dream job, so is this the career you’ve always had in mind?
When I was 19 years old I was in New York with my family seeing a bunch of Broadway shows for Christmas and I saw the show Next to Normal and it changed my life. I was majoring in theater and costume design at the time and that was the moment that I knew that this is what I wanted to do forever. When I was little I thought that I was going to go into fashion and be more of a stylist or a fashion designer, but when I transferred to Samford University, the costume design and theater program was the closest thing they had to fashion and I just absolutely fell in love with it.
Being a Broadway dresser sounds super glamorous, but I’m sure there are a lot of challenges you face. What’s the hardest part about your job?
Well, when I first moved here, I didn’t have a fulltime job at Wicked. I was a swing, so I was like, the alternate for all the other dressers. I had to learn everybody’s track – so like every single specific thing that they do throughout the show. Every single dresser has a different track and different responsibilities. And then I started swinging at Aladdin too, so some mornings I would wake up with a text from Wicked and they’d be like “Hey, can you come in today?” So that was challenging because I didn’t know what I was doing on a daily basis usually, but it was really fun and exciting and I loved that challenge.
Another challenge is having to think quickly and move fast whenever disaster strikes. I dressed the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2015, and I had like a 75 second part change with three Rockettes, and one of them came offstage with a broken shoe and I only had like 30 seconds to fix it before she had to go back onstage. And so at Wicked that wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, because you know, they could easily reblock the show onstage. But the Rockettes, it’s all about precision, so all 40 of those girls have to be onstage for the number to go smoothly, so I really quickly grabbed some duct tape and I taped it to her foot and she did it. So that was pretty high-pressure but it ended well.
What would you say the best part is?
Oh, there’s so many… I think the relationships, though. The relationships I’ve made with the different people that I work with are just unbelievable. The women that I started friendships with at Aladdin have all become like big sisters in my life. My family’s become really close with the man who played the Genie, and yeah, I think it’s definitely the relationships and the family and community that I found through Broadway is just the biggest blessing and the best part. But it’s also really incredible just to know that I play a very, very small part in creating something so legendary every single night. Like, Wicked is one of the most famous shows of all time, and I’m only a little dresser but just being a part of something that’s touched so many people’s lives is pretty humbling.
Do you have advice for anyone who is chasing their dream job right now?
I think that you need to be extremely confident and you have to believe in yourself. And even if you don’t feel very brave, you’ve gotta fake it. I graduated from Samford in 2012 and then I worked for a cruise line for two years and traveled the world to save money in order to move to New York. So when I moved to New York, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know anyone who worked on Broadway [and] I had no idea how to get my foot in the door, so I literally printed out resumes and I would go and knock on every single stage door on Broadway. I would walk in and make friends with the door man and read my resume, and Wicked called me first. And I’ll never forget knocking on that first stage door. It was terrifying. I wasn’t even a member of the union. I was completely clueless, but just taking that like, really big risk and believing in myself, it worked. It actually worked out.
What was the inspiration behind Backstage Blonde?
When you’re backstage, sometimes you have a lot of downtime, and I’m a very outgoing person so I would always befriend the stagehands. And stagehands, crew guys backstage on Broadway, are these big gruff, burly men [and] are just the coolest dudes. They’re all in this union called Local One and like, some people go back for like five generations. So I would be asking these guys just stories about their lives and the famous people they’ve met and the things that they’ve seen, and one guy just casually mentioned that he was at the “I Have a Dream” speech and he was at Woodstock as a teenager and I was like, you don’t find interviews with the stagehands on Playbill.com or Broadway.com. Like, no one’s telling these incredible stories that these guys have to share and I’m super dorky, [so] I would so much rather hear about like, the weird ghosts in the theater and like what went wrong backstage at Sweeny Todd then I would about like what song the next superstar is singing.
When I was in college, obviously I was obsessed with theater but so excited to like, finally live in New York one day and I would always be googling and searching for girls like me and different, you know, bloggers or theater girls and I could never find anything. So this blog is really what I had always wanted to read when I was in school, and it’s also a love letter to all those girls out there who don’t want to be onstage, who want to help create the magic backstage. Because it’s funny how often people are like, ‘Oh, did you want to be an actor but that didn’t work out?’ or ‘Are you trying to be an actor?’ and I’m like, ‘No, I’ve never wanted that, I’ve always wanted the job that I have.’ There isn’t a product like my blog out there and I saw that there’s a market for it and a need for it and I hope that people like the stories that I have to share.