Into the Woods Wig & Make-Up Designer Kaitlyn Adams recently sat down with CCM Public Information Assistant and Arts Administration student Jenifer Thomas to discuss the work that went into this monumental production. Kaitlyn is handling wig and make-up design for this production alongside CCM faculty member Kelly Yurko.
Jenifer Thomas: Hi Kaitie! Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Kaitlyn Adams: I’m a Senior from Cincinnati. I went to high school at Seton on the West side.
JT: Local girl, huh? So what got you into wigs and make-up?
KA: My mom is actually a wig master and make-up artist, so I’ve grown up with it.
JT: And why’d you choose CCM?
KA: There are only two schools in the country that teach wigs and make-up. The other school focuses primarily on wigs and make-up for film, and that wasn’t where I was interested. I want to do stage work.
JT: So when you found out you were assigned to design Into the Woods, what did you do?
KA: I was very excited, because it’s a big show and I like doing character make-up rather than just doing your basic male or female corrective make-up. So, I got to develop my own thing, which was exciting.
JT: And obviously, there’s one major character that has a lot of make-up and wig challenges, and that’s the Witch. How did you approach this character?
KA: The first thing I did when I found out I was designing Into the Woods was to actually know the story, so I bought the movie (which isn’t entirely the same as the stage version) and when I saw the Witch character, I knew what I was dealing with. We knew that we were going to have to do some prosthetic pieces, but it was a matter of what I wanted it to look like, and then conferring with Terri Nikolits, who created the prosthetics, and asking ‘what can we do with this?’ I wanted the Witch to be old and falling apart, but still wanting to be a beauty, so she needed a twist.
We started with the renderings from Dean Mogle, the costume designer, and went from there. We began with the wig. It took me about six hours to create the wig. I had to sew in pieces of weft (which is like a weave where we take hair that we wrap around pieces of string). I cut the weft into small pieces and I had made various colors: purple, green, some yellow and blue, and silver. Then I had to wet-set it [wet setting is winding wet hair around curlers and letting it dry to achieve a specific hairstyle] on straws, which took about three hours. Then I had to style it. So, I unwound the hair from all of the straws and took each individual curl and pulled it into several smaller curls. That’s the wig.
The Witch also has prosthetics: two cheek pieces, a cheekbone and a jowel, a chin and a nose. I gave my design to Terri [the prosthetics designer] and told her I wanted the Witch to have these big bulldog jowels and pointy chin and a bulbous nose, and she went with it. And then she created it, and we painted it, and here it is!
JT: And she transforms in the middle of the show. How do you deal with that?
KA: Well, we have six people on her change. Backstage left, we have an 8’ by 8’ quick change booth. So, we’re all shoved into this quarter. She runs offstage and as she’s running, she’s got people behind her taking off her cloak and undressing her. Then we take off the wig and the prosthetics. It was difficult to figure out how to do that because we apply the prosthetics with spirit gum and latex. The latex peels right off, but leaves her splotchy and red. So, we have to give her a few minutes to cool down, drink some water, and let the redness die down. We only have about six minutes to do this full change. After she’s cool, we start dabbing her and cleaning her off because she’s got make-up on her forehead and around her mouth. The prosthetics cover everything else. So we start applying foundation and working. There are two of us doing make-up, one of us putting on her wig, and three people dressing her. Plus someone’s there for sound. All the while, she has a live mic on because she has lines from backstage, so there’s no sort of noise being made. We have to be very, very quiet and clear all the stagehands out from backstage, because if something were to happen, it would pick up very easily. So, the mic is on, and we’re working quickly and trying not to swear, and she says her lines during all of this.
JT: Were there any other characters that posed a particular challenge for you?
KA: Well, the Witch isn’t the only one with prosthetics in this production. We actually have four characters with prosthetics. The Wolf was also very challenging, because we needed him to have a snout that covers his nose, but we didn’t want him to sound like he had a cold and sound muffled. So we consulted with Rocco [Dal Vera, Professor of Drama] about where to poke the holes in the snout so he wouldn’t sound strange. We had Blaine [Krauss, the student playing the Wolf] rehearse in the snout so he could learn how it moved and we could make sure it would stay on. He also has side burns and this really awesome wig with ears built in. Then, Cinderella’s father has a baldpate and a hand-tied wig plus a prosthetic nose. Jack’s mother also has a prosthetic nose. So we had to figure out how to make these characters work creatively.
JT: Well, I can’t wait to see the show!
KA: It’s definitely an experience. There’s pyro, there’s… well, I don’t want to give away too much. But there’s a LOT of effects. This make-up is not the only cool thing. My little brother is nine and he saw the show last night and was in absolute awe. Everyone did a really great job, and I’m glad you’re excited to see it.
Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods runs Feb. 23-26 and March 1-4 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are $27-$29, $17-$19 for students and can be purchased by visiting the Box Office or calling 513-556-4183. This production celebrates the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre at CCM. Learn more about the production here.
Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s
Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation
Lighting Sponsor: Vincent Lighting Systems