- Hoosic Valley Central School District
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Behind the Scenes…The Art of Makeup

(photos by Olivia Smith - click to enlarge)

February 1, 2018 - When the curtain goes up on the ‘Addams Family’ opening night at Hoosic Valley, the make-up worn by the actors and actresses on stage will have quite a professional flare thanks to Jenn Dugan, owner of The Makeup Curio in Schenectady.

Dugan, a professional theatre and special occasion make-up artist, costumer designer and skin care expert is working with four other high schools in addition to Hoosic Valley during this musical season. She visited rehearsal Thursday to meet with the cast members and begin what she describes as ‘enhancing the character presence through make-up design’.

Within the next few weeks, Dugan will hold a make-up workshop for the cast and crew members teaching techniques and providing individual make-up plans for cast members. She also plans to be on hand for two dress rehearsals just as a ‘confidence builder’, as she notes ‘there is a great team of volunteers from the community who work on make-up with the kids already, I’ll just be here in case there’s a need’.

The cast is very excited, ‘We have never had anyone come and professionally create our characters through make-up before, once we get all made-up we are going to really become our parts and we are learning how to do it for next year!”. Music, to Dugan’s ears or should we say make-up!

Now did you know masks were the original form of ‘make-up’ used in theatre? Unfortunately, they didn’t allow for any emotion to be expressed. The first recorded use of applied theatrical make-up dates back to 6th century B.C. in Greece. It was a white and red face paint made from white lead and mercuric sulfide, not quite, what one would label as safe to wear!

Fast forward to the Elizabethan period, performers were all male, playing female roles and the need to designate between the genders on stage gave rise to the use of make-up; soot, burnt cork, berry and plant pigments were commonly used.

By the 1800’s make-up moved towards a powdered base, it was then mixed with lard to create greasepaint. By the mid early 1900’s ‘pancake’ make-up was born. Today crème make-ups are typically used Dugan notes, although ‘pancake’ make-ups still have their place for those with sensitive skin.

It goes without saying; a ton of support goes on ‘Behind the Scenes’… come opening night it all comes together like clock work. Until next week and yet another group of volunteers the musical couldn’t go on without.