I’d been doing freelance stagehand work for a little over two months before leaving for Orlando, FL to work as a Fairy Godmother-in-Training at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Walt Disney World. When I returned 4 months later I signed up with a new stagehand company. I was immediately schedule to work the Ford Exclusive Tour featuring Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Sean Kingston, and Souija Boy as a Lighting Technician (a person in charge of placing lighting for an event and building truss apparatuses). The scheduler, informed me that he would’ve booked me to work Wardrobe (a person in charge of maintaining garments worn by the performing acts), but that he had already filled the position.
A half-a-week later, I was called and requested to work Electrics (a person in charge of doing the electrical aspects of an event–like running cable, etc), or as a Lighting Technician, for The Best of Both World’s Tour featuring Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus and Everlast. I happily accepted the position, and didn’t expect anything else. However, Thursday before the concert, I was called by the scheduler again and informed that my call had been changed from Electrics to Wardrobe and that I wouldn’t have to arrive till 10:30am on Saturday, January 26th.
When Saturday rolled around I arrived at the New Orleans Arena dressed in the requested attire. My black stagehand shirt and dark corduroy pants, along with my work bag filled with “Worst-Case Scenario” items like electrical tape, hot glue gun, etc. I signed in with Arena Security backstage who checked my bag, and then gave me, and my bag, a wristband in the appointed color of the day, to signify that I shouldn’t be ejected from the venue for trespassing.
I then made my way through the backstage loading dock to sign-in with my scheduler who was in catering eating breakfast. After checking in, I went into the Arena to gauge the progress of stage. The deck (stage) had already been assembled by the house (entity hosting the event) and had been pushed all the way to the front of the house, or FOH (area where the audience usually sits or stands), so that the Lighting Technicians, Audio Technicians (people in charge of the sound aspects of an event–like placing speakers, etc), Riggers (people in charge of hoisting truss and other items into the air through the use of chain motors), and Roadies (a person that is part of the traveling crew for a tour) could work on the HUGE screen that was going to be placed behind the stage, and the 4 floating “boxes” that would be suspended above the stage. Stage Carpenters (people who construct additional levels or other stationary items on the stage itself) the deck adding the 2nd level to it, where the band would be stationed.
After about 10-15 minutes of watching everyone in the Arena, I was directed to the Tour’s Wardrobe Assistant (a person who answers to the Wardrobe Supervisor) who would then take me into the Wardrobe/Dressing Room and delegate our tasks for the evening. I was placed in charge of cleaning and repairing the back-up dancers shoes, and a pair of Mylie’s shoes that would be used in the evening’s performance. In total there was about 12 pairs of shoes and took me about 2 hrs to complete the task. When I finished I was directed to return at 4:30pm, towards the end of the first act, for my showcall(a work call that has you working during the actual performance). I was then distributed a “working” pass (a backstage pass that signifies that you are working a showcall). So, I went off to catering and had a lovely meal prepared by the Tour’s catering crew. A little later when I was speaking with my scheduler, Billy Ray Cyrus came in, and gave us a polite, “Hi”, and proceeded to the front of the Arena to watch his daughter perform.
When I returned to Wardrobe at 4:30pm the Asst. Wardrobe Supervisor (a person who shares the responsibility of the Wardrobe Supervisor) informed me that I’d be allowed to wait in the wings (the sides of the stage that normally aren’t viewable to the audience) during the first two songs before I’d be required to sort, and hang up the cast-off clothes. Everlast wrapped their last set, the house lights came up, and there was a slight intermission while Miley and her dancers prepped to take the stage. After about 5-10 minutes the lights cut out again in the Arena, and the young, primarily female, crowd went wild with screams. The 4 hanging boxes and the back video screen lit up in an “ipod commercial”-esq style with a dancing female figure in the center, and the beginning of “Rockstar” began to play. The center hanging box slowly descended to the stage and when it started to lift back up, Hannah Montana emerged in one of two opening outfits. According to the Asst Wardrobe Supervisor, the dress was “off the rack”, but constructed from gorgeous silver mylar mirrors and paired with black glitter tights and some black Eskimo boots. The stage lights came up, her back-up dancers emerged in matching attire, and pyrotechnics cued.
She finished her second song and I proceeded to backstage right to begin my tasks. Numerous undershirts and mildly altered, store-bought jeans and tops speckled with sequins and rhinestones came in waves after each song. Half way through the show, Everlast came back out and took the stage once more as Hannah made the switch to Miley. On their way back from the stage they gave me a smile and a nod while I dealt with a bombardment of unnaturally colored synthetic wigs and men’s dress pants with reversible sequin and rhinestone suspenders.
About three songs into the second half, the Asst. Wardrobe Supervisor told me that Miley was going to be sick while passing me the next batch to sort. Sure enough, in the beginning of the next song she announced that she’d “Be Right Back” and walked off stage to the band playing a short interlude. When she returned I received the message that she was “puking her guts out”, and that they were skipping a song because of it. Shortly thereafter both her Mother and Father came running while the closing song of the evening, “Best of Both Worlds” blared out front.
I was then directed back to the Wardrobe/Dressing Room area where we further sorted items, so that they’d be ready for the tour’s next stop. The girl’s and boy’s back-up dancer’s attire was sorted into different cases, and Hannah’s/Miley’s clothes were places into two cases designated just for her that contained her wigs, shoes, jewelry, and other items. We then locked each of them up, and pushed them into the hallway for them to be loaded onto the trucks. I was then released for the evening as Wardrobe’s loadout (the breakdown and removal of items) had been completed. I later saw Miley’s Mother and Father leave the Arena through the back loading dock, and then Everlast left to sign autographs and get footage for their tour video. Fans were wrapped around the back of the Arena awaiting Hannah/Miley, something I’d never seen with any other act that had been through the area, but sadly she would never emerge to greet her fans due to her condition.