After each show, the cast would go into the lobby to greet the audience members as they were leaving, and thank them for their attendance. It was always interesting to me to see what people had to say after the production. As Grizabella, my costume and makeup garnered the greatest number of comments, and I found that most people in attendance were under the impression that we had makeup artists backstage who transformed us into our feline characters. They were always surprised to learn that each of us did our own makeup. So I thought it might be fun to share the process with you!
Our fabulous director/choreographer, Greg Baccharini, gave us a makeup tutorial one night at rehearsal, complete with handouts of what each of our character's face should look like. Here were mine.
Young Grizabella, for the opening dance number and The Naming of Cats:
And Old Grizabella for the rest of the show:
Step one of "becoming a cat" starts with your hair. You have to get rid of it! So we learned the best way to ensure it didn't fall out of our wigs during the performance was to pin curl our hair (boys didn't have to do this step, obviously), and then put on a wig cap. This process takes about 20 minutes, depending on how much hair you have.
Then it's time for makeup! I found the easiest way to start was to draw lines and then fill them in with color. I used two makeup pencils, one white and one gray.
The makeup was basically grease paint. It came in these tubes:
I always started with the white paint first.
Then the light gray...
Then the dark gray. This color was a bit tricky, since I also had to use it to cover not only my face, but my ears and neck, too. Once I filled in the dark gray, then I also filled in the center of my neck with white paint.
Once all the basic colors were done, then I had to powder HEAVILY, and brush off.
Then I used a waterproof liquid eyeliner to draw the lines, nose, stripes, and other details.
After this, I had to powder again, and then - and this surprised me - spray my face with water. The water actually makes the colors more vivid. Who knew?!
Then, it was time to tackle my nemesis. I HATE false eyelashes. Hate them. This part was always a struggle, and 8 out of the 9 times I had to wear them I ended up with glue in my eyes. But that was the next step, followed by a dab of blood-red on my lips.
Then I put on my Young Grizabella wig. You might also notice the microphone and wire on the left side of my face. The mic was tucked around my ear, beneath the wig cap, with the pack in a little pocket inside the unitard. (Yes, I wore a unitard with a big fat tail for the opening number. No, I did not take a picture of that. You're welcome.)
After The Naming of Cats, I ran back to the dressing room to make my transformation into Old Grizabella. That involved a few changes to the makeup.
And I had to change into this wig,
add these gloves,
these shoes (yuck!),
a sequined dress, a fur boa, and a coat that looked like it was made from rat pelts and weighed a ton. It also had a tail attached to it that dragged the floor about 3 feet behind me. All of this went on top of the unitard that I wore for the opening number.
I was able to stay in that get-up for the remainder of the show. The entire makeup process took about 2 hours prior to every show. It was fun for me, because I enjoy that sort of thing! I am thrilled I was able to participate in such a great show, but I have to admit that I'm glad I don't have to spend two hours putting all that grease on my face tonight!