Actor playing 8 roles in Bushnell production calls costume changes ‘supermanning’

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HARTFORD--One Tony Award-winning play is getting some action in Hartford, and one man is doing all the heavy lifting.

John Rapson is one of the leads in a current production of "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, but that comes with quite a bit of weight.

"I play the entire D'Ysquith family," he said, and he's not kidding. Rapson plays eight different parts in the play, and his ability to slide into each character is all thanks to the costumes.

The show debuted on the Hartford Stage in 2012 before heading to San Diego's Old Globe Theater, and then on to Broadway a year later. It closed it's Broadway curtains in January 2016, and has been on a national tour since 2015. Rapson is the principal cast member for the national tour.

Nadine Hettel is the show's dresser, and says that there are about 60 costumes with more than 500 pieces for her to keep track of.

But since Rapson has so many costume changes, he doesn't have time to head to a formal dressing room.

No; as soon as he walks off the stage, three people meet him to quickly unwrap his current attire and refit him in a new costume, complete with hats, facial hair and other accessories. And he does it all in just 20 seconds!

"It is a straight-up NASCAR pit stop with an actor and some dressers," Rapone said. "We call it 'supermanning' because I basically put my arms out like I'm flying, walk into it," and ta-da! He's dressed!

The show's Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Musical and for Best Costume Design.