Don’t make me up

Once Upon a Time I thought I knew everything there was to know about makeup. Thanks to such YouTube beauty gurus as Arden Rose, Tanya Burr and Zoella, I’ve been learning about bb creams, waterlines and finishing powders since freshman year.

On Sunday afternoon I was ushered into an entirely new cosmetic world: the world of stage makeup.

Stage makeup is different. It’s caked on, overly-dramatic and highlights and shadows the face in bizarre, patchy ways. Luckily no one sees the oddities from 30 feet away.

I witnessed the weirdness in a small, windowless room off of PACE Theatre‘s main studio. PACE’s Artistic Director, Angela Howard, and her sister-in-law/professional makeup artist, Keelie Howard, hosted a class all about fantasy makeup. They focused on merpeople, sea witches and fishes for their upcoming production of Disney’s “Little Mermaid.”

Angela handed brushes to unsuspecting teenage students and encouraged them to let their imaginations run wild. The result? A nervous-looking girl (Rose) painting green and blue swirls onto the cheekbone of another nervous-looking girl (Gabbi). Eventually they both relaxed.

Keelie’s methods were more structured: paint one of Ursula’s eyes step-by step and have the student copy it, step-by-step. The results were impressive and, best of all, glittery.

As the class was winding down Angela announced to the room, “Now I’m going to try something on Claire!” She reached for my left wrist and I obliged, rolling up the sleeve of my sweater. In two minutes flat she’d created a convincing bruise from the joint of my thumb, down my wrist, bleeding over onto the front and back of my hand. Yum. Is bruising a conflict of interest?

Quite apart from the makeup, Sunday also marks my first experience working with both a photographer and a videographer. The classroom seemed about three times smaller. Equipment was spread everywhere and the three of us bobbed and weaved around students and teachers, trying to stay out of each other’s way. Though I haven’t seen the results of the day’s labors, I’m hopeful we succeeded.

The results of this interview (and many others) will be published in the issue of Vox that comes out February 14. On that happy day I’ll post a link the story here… Ursula says you should read it.

The Little Mermaid
Ursula’s makeup from the Broadway production of Disney’s “Little Mermaid.”



Everyone working together so nicely. Mr. Photographer (shiny bald head on left) captures Rose Brendel applying makeup to Gabbi Schust’s eyelid as Angela Howard supervises. Keelie Howard (left) and Brooke have their own lesson further back. (Photo by me.)
Don’t make me up

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