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For her, costumes are a habit

Jocelyn Cartwright may not be a marquee star, but her handiwork is all over 'Sister Act' at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

August 01, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • On its first national tour, "Sister Act" comes to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from Aug. 6 to 18.
On its first national tour, "Sister Act" comes… (Joan Marcus )

Jocelyn Cartwright has no desire to be onstage.

She's too shy to be comfortable under a spotlight. Plus, there's the question of training.

The Montello, Wisc., resident doesn't need to be on the front line hearing applause, though. As head of wardrobe for Troika Entertainment, her domain is backstage.

Making sure the actors are in costume in time for their cues stimulates joy, she said, adding, "I'm helping them get to where they need to be."

Cartwright, 34, will travel from San Diego to Costa Mesa with the cast of "Sister Act" for a stop at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from Aug. 6 to 18.

The religion-based story is a spinoff on the similarly named 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg. After a 16-month run in the Big Apple, "Sister Act" kicked off its first North American tour in Toronto on Oct. 2.

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With original music by songwriter Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater, the tale of a nightclub-singer-turned-nun is also a Tony nominee for Best Musical. To Center president Terry Dwyer, the musical's success thus far made it an obvious choice for a local run. Ticket sales are pleasing and also reflect a number of church organizations that plan to attend.

"I'm looking forward to audiences coming here to see a new show, one they've never seen before, being completely entertained with the music, production numbers and comedy — and leaving the Center feeling they've had a wonderful time," he said.

Dashaun Young, 30, of New York, has been part of the "Sister Act" troupe for almost a year. The Cal State Fullerton graduate portrays four characters, including the policeman Sweaty Eddie.

"It's been amazing," he said. "We get to see so many different places across the country on tour."

Cartwright plays a critical role in keeping the show running, he noted. Whether fitting costumes, making alterations or maintaining accessories, she stays busy backstage.

"Her presence is around every theater," said the former "Lion King" and "Hairspray" actor, who enjoys watching the audience's awestruck expressions during Sweaty Eddie's triple costume change.

Starting out at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisc., Cartwright, who also worked on Troika's "Fiddler on the Roof," says no two days are alike. Some are great, and others force her to sit back and wonder, "What's going on here?"

After years of dodging surprises behind the scenes, though, she can sense trouble a mile away.

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