A few months ago, I took a stage makeup class with the theater department at my university. I loved experimenting with different techniques, and I learned a lot about special effects makeup (prosthetics, blood, scar wax, and more). Here are some of my favorite looks […]
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With makeup trends like “baking” on the rise, heavy-duty loose powders are becoming more and more coveted. Of course, that isn’t to say loose powder hasn’t been a staple for a long time. The Ben Nye Neutral Set Powder is a staple in stage makeup kits, […]
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opened tonight, and at 7:30 PM my makeup designs went live. It has been years since I participated in a theater production, and I had forgotten how thrilling (and nerve-wracking) opening night can be. Working backstage for the first time, I discovered the pleasure of observing your work from the audience without the pressure of performance.
Stage makeup is all about being big and bold, especially for certain characters. In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum there is a group characters called “the courtesans.” The costume designer created large, elaborate wigs and colorful, sexy costumes for these women, and I had to design makeup looks to match. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a kitschy 1960s musical comedy set in ancient Rome, so inspiration for the looks was derived from images like Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Cleopatra. To teach the courtesans how to do their makeup, I did a demonstration on my friend Hailey (who was playing Tintibula in the show).
While I was doing makeup on other actors, Hailey did her own foundation and contouring. Then, I applied makeup to her eyes, brows, cheeks, and lips. I started with the Ben Nye Color Lumiere Palette. I applied “Sun Yellow” shadow all over her up to her brown bone to create intense pigmentation, then topped this with “Aztec Gold” and “Iced Gold.” For definition, I put “Silver” in the crease and along the lower lashline. The next step, which was crucial to defining the look of the courtesans, was to apply the Ben Nye Cake eyeliner with a damp angled brush. I created a wing from the outer corner of the eyes to the end of the brow, and filled in a thick black line. The final step was to apply false eyelashes. After the eyes were finished, I moved onto Hailey’s cheeks. For this I simply applied a bright red color from a Ben Nye blush palette. For lips, I had asked the costume designer to bring me several different shades of lipstick and a pill box. I filled the pill box with different shades of lipsticks for the actresses to use. I used a lip liner on Hailey, overlining her lips, then I filled them in with a bright red Wet n’ Wild lipstick and a lip brush.
The other actresses applied makeup in a similar fashion to Hailey, though they were assigned to do their makeup in colors that matched their costumes: Hailey’s costume is black, silver, and gold, so her makeup coordinated with her costume. The stage makeup was an important aspect of the costume that helped the courtesans get into character.
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My relationship with stage makeup has been going strong since I was in the third grade, and I performed in my first musical, Beauty-Loo and the Country Beast. I performed in a variety of theater productions until I completed high school, but after my graduation I […]