August 12, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jersey Boys’ Dresser Kelly Kinsella!

August 12th, 2007

In New York last weekend, while interviewing Jennifer Naimo, we had the great opportunity to meet Jersey Boys’ dresser Kelly Kinsella! We’re excited to present an interview with Kelly, who talks about her life as both a dresser and performer; her early days; her inspirations; some great backstage Jersey Boys’ stories; and a lot of other surprises!

JBB: Tell us about yourself. What was your career path? Have you always been interested in both a fashion-related career and a theatre-related career? How did you become interested in being a dresser on Broadway? What other shows have you worked on?

KK: I studied Theatre, Fine Arts, and French in college. As a child, I was a prolific visual artist. I loved fashion and would wear “costumes” to school (my neighbors enjoyed looking out the window at me as I waited for the bus to see what I had put together). When I moved to New York, I had a friend who was a dresser, and he suggested I do it as well, as it is less backbreaking work than waitressing! I have worked on The Sound of Music, Annie Get Your Gun, Cats, La Boheme, Wicked, Bombay Dreams, The Pillowman, A Christmas Carol, and many others…

JBB: For those of us that haven’t spent much time behind the scenes in theatre, what are the responsibilities of a dresser? Are most of your responsibilities as a dresser done before, during, or after the show?

KK: A dresser makes sure that the actor is wearing the proper costumes (and all of it!) at the proper times during a show. Most of our work is designed to do during the play on “deck” (behind the scenery), including quick changes, not so quick changes, and very quick changes! Before the show we preset our quick changes. There is choreography involved. It’s an art form!

JBB: As a dresser, what sets Jersey Boys aside from the other productions that you’ve worked on?

KK: It’s a group effort at JB. There are six of us and we are all sort of responsible for all of the actors, even though I specifically dress the Jersey Girls. Also, its the longest show I’ve worked on, so I’ve developed relationships with the cast and crew. We are a family. Most importantly, it’s the biggest all-around HIT I’ve ever worked on, so the excitement over the first year–parties, TV appearances, etc., made it unique.

JBB: What is the single most important thing you do as a dresser, and how does that contribute to the allure of the Jersey Boys’ story?

KK: It is important to be empathetic and a good people person, which I am. I am an actor, too–so I understand their needs, especially when they seem inane!!

JBB: From a dresser perspective, do you have a scene that stands out as one of the most powerful or most complicated in Jersey Boys?

KK: Once you learn your cues as a dresser, and do them for several months, that’s it! You can “do it with your eyes closed.” Sometimes, I actually lose my eyes when I do a change to see if that little saying is true….

JBB: Do you have any wild or outrageous backstage costume-related stories, or any “wardrobe malfunctions” that you can share?

KK Yes, I frequently forget to put out costumes during quick changes and we all laugh…after I frantically rip them off hangers and glue them to bodies.

JBB: As far as costumes go, do you have a favorite costume in Jersey Boys?

KK: I love “The Angels” costumes because they are tailored to a T, and the weight feels nice in my hands–lots of beads….

JBB: What is your favorite scene, musical number, and line in Jersey Boys?

KK: Love listening to Jen Naimo’s duet with Frankie in “My Eyes Adored You” and her scenes are great. I like loud Italian people fighting on stage about lost love, etc…It breaks my heart! Kris Coleman has got some chops! But the whole cast is impressive. They are really talented singers and it’s pleasant to listen to them. Thank God, because it’s been two years.

JBB: You are also a performer! How did you become interested in performing? Who or what were your inspirations? Who were your influences? What performers do you admire?

KK: I have performed since I was eight. I put sequins on a bodysuit and rollerskated around my suburban driveway and sang rhyming songs about my dogs. I also wrote love songs for them. They were my greatest inspiration as a child, along with the Three Stooges. I always loved physical comedy and silly voices. I was a dancer and mimicked Michael Jackson. That never got old. I still pull out the old “Thriller” every now and then. Today, my influences are drugs and alcohol. I’m just kidding. Amy Sedaris–hilarious. Cloris Leachman–genius. Eddie Murphy–channeler. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the athlete of actors… I usually cheer during his films–even when its a drama and someone has died.

JBB: You’re currently starring in your own show, “Kelly Kinsella Live! Under Broadway.” What is the concept for the show and how were you inspired to create it?

KK: Oh that little skit? haha! I’ve been developing that sucker for several years. Very personal and funny account of the nutty people that I manage to listen to for long enough to get their character down. A friend of mine said, “Make the plot happen at the theatre backstage where you work as a dresser.” (since so many of the characters were people I’ve met over the years- chorus girls, stagehands, child actors, Liza Minelli…) EVERY DAY, I hear more material that I could justifiably put in my show, but not feasibly possible, because it would be like 15 hours long. My show is about a Broadway dresser who attempts to navigate the labyrinth of lunatics onstage and off in her professional and personal life. And, it has a show within a show!

JBB: You’ll also be performing in Daniel Reichard’s upcoming “Summer Mix Tape” concerts. What will you be doing in the show?

KK: I’ll do one of my characters from my show. I always do something new and different for Daniel’s shows. We like to keep it fresh!

JBB: You’ve had a really amazing ride as both a dresser and a performer! Are you currently working on any other projects? Are there any other upcoming performances in your near future?

KK: My performance at the NY International Fringe Festival runs through August 24. Go to for dates and times. This is my main project right now as I mold it more and more into a great selling product! Buy, BUY…BUY!!!

JBB: Anything else you’d like to share?

KK: Everyone poops. Including those hot Jersey Boys!

Thank you so much to Kelly Kinsella for this fascinating interview on her life as a Jersey Boys’ dresser and as a performer! All the best to Kelly in her current careers and in her future endeavors!


  1. It’s cool to hear from Kelly. I enjoyed reading this unique interview. Thanks for another one!

    Comment by Lauren — August 13, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  2. That does sound like such a cool job. You really do have to be on the ball every second and if not, have a good sense of humor!

    Comment by THEA — August 13, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  3. Kelly, You have a wonderful sense of humor! I’ll bet everyone has a blast backstage with you around!! What a great job! Loved your interview.

    Comment by JBJN54 — August 15, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  4. Kelly Kinsella…a great interview laced with revealing glimpses into your world, your humor and especially your profound insights on life (i.e. Ev erybody poops even the hot JB’s). I love it!

    Comment by Raymond Papaleoni — August 15, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  5. Great opening act for Daniel on Sunday, Kelly…..Loved your take on your Mom, June, and the demands she makes upon her “actor daughter.” (And now with the slide show, I can put a face on the character!)

    Any chance your opening for Daniel will match Stewie Stone’s longevity as the opening act for Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons–I think they’re together over 30 years now!?!

    Comment by Howard Tucker — August 15, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  6. Kelly Kinsella may be dressing the Jersey Boys and Girls for now, but it won’t be long before they’re dressing HER!
    I caught her one-woman show Live! Under Broadway earlier this year and to say she’s multi-talented is like saying that Bill Gates knows a little bit about computers.
    My prediction: Kelly Kinsella will soon emerge as one of the top character actresses/comediennes of the early 21st Century !
    She has all the right stuff and then some…

    Comment by Russ Tarby — August 17, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment