"I designed the costume changes, and I'm still kind of proud of them," he says. "For instance, the dresses have to be split in the back so they can be pulled on and off, but I wanted to make it so the audience wouldn't see the actors' legs, which were still in trousers. I added an extra panel that wraps around the back and fastens in the front."
Of course, no system is foolproof, and Quinton told the actors, "When it's time to go on, you go on, even if you're not finished getting dressed. There are times the Velcro doesn't fasten, and you're crab-walking across the stage.
"Once, when I was performing the show, I had to get someone from the audience to help me close my dress. 'Here,' I said, 'Do this for me.' He got all nervous, but he did it. And the audience loved it."
Ticket-holders for "Vep" should watch for the scene late in the second act when Nelson, simultaneously playing the parts of Nicodemus and Enid, carries on a conversation with himself. The bottom half of the actor's body is out of sight, but the top half is clearly visible. In perhaps 10 seconds, Nelson appears to change costume at least four times.
Another highlight comes at the curtain call, when director Quinton has the four main characters each take a separate bow, necessitating another flurry of split-second costume changes. During a recent rehearsal, the director coaxed Brandhagen and Nelson to milk applause to give the folks backstage a precious extra moment to get ready.
"Love, love, love," Quinton says. "Now cross to the other side of the stage, and don't walk too quickly. Let the audience love you to death. Love, love, love, love, love."
For some shows, dressers Grant, Smith and Merriwether-deVries, along with stagehand Tim Bucher (who briefly dons two fright masks during each performance) will be pulled on stage for the finale. Crew members aren't used to being in the spotlight, and initially the four held back.
"Don't be shy," Quinton told them. "Let the audience show their gratitude. You've earned every second of this bow."
If you go
"The Mystery of Irma Vep" runs through Dec. 13 at Everyman Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m., 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $22-$40. Call 410-752-2208 or go to everymantheatre.org.