To make a long story short I volunteered to be on the hair and makeup team for my old high school’s steampunk-themed production of Godspell.
To make a short story a little longer, I did not volunteer to be on the hair and makeup team for my old high school’s steampunk-themed production of Godspell- I was volunTOLD to do so by my mother, who has headed up the theater program’s critically acclaimed beauty squad for almost ten years.
At this point I should remind all of you that my sister is a makeup artist and I am not…
I’m a little ashamed to admit that at first I was only in it for the steampunk. I’ve always had a thing for anti-historical countercultural phenomena (don’t you?), and the idea of being able to work out my feels about the aesthetics of clockwork on a bunch of willing participants was genuinely appealing. In the weeks leading up to the show I shopped for wigs, ordered custom hairpieces from The Wig Mistress Allison Lowery, made vision boards, picked out products, and watched this Panic at the Disco music video a million times for reference. Then, it was time to meet the kids.
If you don’t think these are the cutest people in the world then idk what to tell you, bro
When I say it took me twelve seconds to fall in love with this cast, I actually mean it only took me eleven. I’m not even going to say they were really nice kids because “nice” understates the depths of the kindness and love I experienced while staying backstage with them. Also because nice people wouldn’t say half the shit that comes out of their mouths. Seriously, what a bunch of sassmonsters.
Sure, they look cute NOW…
Because of the steampunk/carnival theme of the show, our hair and makeup design had to toe the line between circuslike showmanship and the vaguely gothic undertones of the steampunk subculture. We ended up pulling inspiration from sources as disparate as Pirates of the Caribbean, I Dream of Jeannie, and mid-00s Punk/Emo bands for our lookbook.
Madame Kasiana had elements of Captain Jack in her dreadlocked extensions. Both the extensions and the red/gold yarn fall on the left are gorgeous custom pieces by Allison Lowery.
Two fake braids and a custom headpiece transformed Alexandra into a titian Barbara Eden.
Panic At the Disco Jesus wants me to get out of his face. Spoiler alert: I do not get out of Panic at the Disco Jesus’ face.
Most of our eye looks were created with MAC products, especially our guyliner-intensive Jesus and Judas. Some pictures I have were taken after the show so they’re smeared a bit (try as I did to torture the cast with a setting spray that I’m pretty sure will give them all nightmares AND trust issues), but the three kinds of eyeliner we used are all reasonably durable.
Judas had a My Chemical Romance circa “The Black Parade” vibe, with a military-styled leather trenchcoat and a dirty, coal-dusty look that contrasted him with Jesus’ simpler style. For his eyes I coated his waterline with MAC Eye Kohl in “Smolder” and smeared on an oversized cat eye with an off-brand chubby black liner. The MAC Eye Kohl ended up being a godsend for me, mostly because it goes on easy and rolls oh-so creamily along the lash line.
I’m just a holy fool oh baby, he’s so cruel but I’m still in love with Judas, baby!
I also used the MAC Eye Kohl to get at Jesus’ waterline, but I only lined his bottom lid to keep from shadowing his dark eyes (by contrast, Judas has blue eyes that looked especially menacing coming through the black makeup). I also added a spike tail to Jesus’ liner using the MAC Liquid Eye Liner in black, which settled into the laugh lines at the sides of his eyes and emphasized his smile. You can see from the photo below that the Eye Kohl smeared but the Liquid Liner stayed for the entire performance.
“I said get out of my fa-“
The third kind of liner we used was a MAC Fluidline gel liner in “Blacktrack.” I didn’t work with this liner as much, but we used it in conjunction with Tim Holtz Sprocket Gears (carefully adhered with DUO eyelash glue) to create abstract clockwork designs on some characters’ faces, like Madame Kasiana above and Erin Aaron below:
We added this pretty spiraling look to console Erin because this was the second show in a row where she played a male impersonator. Next year we promised her ball gowns and sparkles. Let’s hope they don’t end up doing Twelfth Night.
I was only involved with the cast for the very last week of the production, but I already miss my Godspell babies. I’m so glad I got to meet the seniors (Henry, Katherine, Kasey, and Max- you are all gorgeous specimens of humanity and I want good things to happen to you always) as well as the new people who have more recently come into the GSB theater family.
I dropped hints about the Godspell playlist I made after stumbling home opening night, so I’m embedding it at the end of this post as a bonus for the cast. There’s one track for each of their characters…some of them are pretty easy to figure out but others are a little trickier!
Happy Godspell, everybody!