So last year I worked on Iolanthe and had to touch up the Lord Chancellor's wig. The company owns 3 or 4 but they all looked pretty sad and squashed after being crammed into a bin for storage. Here are 2 of them (I don't have a "before" picture of the third):
Monday, April 10, 2023
OK, nothing so dramatic as the title might make it sound. I'm designing hair and makeup for a stage adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and several of the actors will be wearing wigs. We ended up ordering a wig for one of them; right texture but wrong shape. Merely pinning it won't work because there's too much volume in the back & sides; trying to pin it smaller would merely leave it looking matted. The challenge is to take this:
Saturday, April 08, 2023
I just realized I haven't touched this blog in 2 years! I may take it in a new direction. I've been doing a lot of hair & makeup design lately, so this might be a good place to record what I work on and track my progress.
I finished The New Moon about a month ago. Set in 1790, so just about everyone wore a wig, and one utility ensemble member had three! I had a few false starts with some of the wigs, so I ended up styling close to 40 of them. No, I didn't have anyone to help, so although I was also supposed to be makeup designer, I was so busy doing wigs that makeup got very short shrift indeed.
I was styling wigs right up to opening night, and ended up restyling one of them because I wasn't too happy with how the first attempt turned out. Fortunately, the singer, the director & I were all happy with the 2nd attempt.
The men's wigs were largely queues and braids; easy. It's just that there were about 12 or 15 of them. The challenge was the women's wigs. They were all variations of the Georgiana, Adele and Matilda styles from 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling. They took a LONG time - about an hour just to do a wet set of each one (though by the end I think I got it down to 45 mins), using close to 30 rollers each. Then the wig had to sit & dry, then I had to take it apart and style it; usually good for another 30 mins to an hour. (For these styles I definitely recommend the (discontinued, sadly) Lioness style wig, by Mona Lisa, if you can find one.) Multiply that by 17 or 18 and you get an idea of how very much time it all took.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
I stumbled onto Maria Grace's Jane Austen's Dragons series last year and really enjoyed them. I get notices of her blog posts and all that; it's been fun. A post back in February or March noted that one of the proofreaders for her newest book, Dragons Beyond the Pale, had had to drop out. In a comment, I offered to pick up the slack, never expecting her to take me up on it. But she did! She sent me the book in 4 files, which I proofed and sent back to her. The book came out last week "and I helped!" to quote the ancient Shake & Bake commercial. As a thank you, she sent me an e-copy of the book and is also mailing me a paperback version.
It was little weird in that I didn't want to tell an author what to do, but the language geek in me just has to fix the punctuation, catch the repetitive phrases, etc. And of course no one is immune to typos. i went thru each file twice before returning it. It was interesting to see what I missed on the first pass, usually because I was a little too engrossed in the story but sometimes because I think my brain just read what should have been there instead of what was actually there. My notes reflected my ambivalence: "Hmm; perhaps ..." or "consider using __ or __ instead" or "I don't think you need to use this; it doesn't really add anything." I haven't checked the e-version yet to see how many of my suggestions she kept. I may wait for the paperback to arrive.
This was fun! I got to help an author I enjoy get her newest title into the hands of her eager fans - that was something of a rush. This book leaves the door open for at least 2 or 3 more in the series; I sure hope she taps me for those books, too.
The Chief has been suffering from "frozen shoulder" for a few months. The remedies of first and second resort haven't helped much at all, so now he's scheduled for surgery in early June.
I learned a coupla months ago that one hip is bone on bone, so now I'm "radiologically ready" for hip replacement! That was quick - the last time my hip was x-rayed, 2 or 3 yrs ago, it showed only mild arthritis. So surgery for me, too. The trick will be timing it so that Ray's recovered enough to take care of me. 😵
Looks like we might be using our long-term care policy a LOT sooner than we'd anticipated!
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Unfortunately, someone who's a FB friend because she's an expert in historical clothing and, by extension, social history, is a conservative who has a tendency to edge toward snark. I don't want to unfriend her too, but the way things are going, what with the pandemic, the protests, and the pending election, I'm not too sanguine.
The one other conservative on my F-list was the parish secretary for yoicks. She once described Trump as "prayerful"! I don't know where she got that idea, but she may be headed off my list too.
I don't want to work in a bubble but if all my conservative friends are drinking the pro-confederate flag, anti-BLM, "Trump can do no wrong" koolaid, I don't know how long I can turn a blind eye.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
I gotta get this under control soonest, so I can start practicing in earnest for my Messiah gig; listening to recordings & following along in the score can only take me so far.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Ah well, Pirates is one of the best for women's chorus. I'll go into it already knowing the music, and not having to worry about memorizing lines will make it easier to design the show as well as be in it.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
First up was The Gondoliers. Not only did I get to style 4 hedgehog wigs and a man's wig with buckles (those rolls on the sides), plus wigs for a couple of other folks that were set-and-forget, but I was also in the show. Oh, and I made 7 headdresses for the married contadine of the ensemble and had a heckuva time figuring out how to anchor the *@&$%! things to everyone's heads. That made tech week and the run even busier than usual, because I had to age one of the men, do final makeup for a few of the men, eyeliner for one or two folks with less-than-steady hands, AND had to keep tweaking that blasted buckle wig. I dubbed it my "problem child" because I had to take it home and restyle it at least twice, in addition to all the backstage tweaking I had to do. Still, it was a fun show, and I was happy with how the "hedgehogs" turned out. Not as big as I'd hoped, but not at all bad for a first attempt.
one buckle wig (L) and 2 hedgehogs (C, R)
Warning: The rest of this post will be full of spoilers.
As you can guess from the title, the whole play is full of one mishap or disaster after another. In fact, the whole "plot" is merely a vehicle to carry as many actor's and tech's nightmares as possible. This means you find yourself wondering what's going to go wrong next, and when. As a result, pretty much every performer on stage has to be good at (sometimes very) physical comedy, which probably left most of them with a whole lotta bruises. The cast we saw did an excellent job at physical comedy, especially Maggie Weston and Matt Walker (Florence and Cecil). Maggie got dragged upside-down & sideways through a window in Act I, and Matt took pratfalls, executed somersaults, walked into things face first, and generally made it look as though he'd be black and blue from head to toe by the next morning.
The set includes a platform, appropriately furnished, that represents an upstairs study. Over the course of the play the downstage end drops a few inches two or three times, while there are people standing on it. My first thought was "Are they OK?!" Now of course I know that there is no way such a bit of business was allowed without making completely sure they could pull it off safely. Still, it would be so easy for something unscripted to go wrong that I couldn't relax, for the performers' sake.
There were a few moments when something would happen or someone would say something and the people on stage would pause, or they would draw out a sight gag, milking it for all it was worth. I know it was done for comic effect, but I felt that in most cases they let it go on too long.
The performers did do a good job, but they were upstaged by the special effects of the disasters. Those were so well staged (the shifting platform, a trick floorboard, things falling off walls, and so many more) that it's easy to see why the set won a Tony. The engineering involved in creating those effects so they could be controlled with exquisite timing was impressive! (We couldn't help but wonder how long it takes the crew to reset everything for the next performance.)
There were a lot of references to actor's nightmares (e.g., an actor redelivering a line, causing everyone else to repeat a scene) and tech's nightmares (a stagelight sparking as its support falls), but a whole play based almost entirely on stringing them together was a lot funnier to the people coming up with the idea than it was to at least these two members of their audience.