May 17, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Hair and Design in Hairspray

The FAC Theatre Company's production of the Broadway musical Hairspray, closing June 3, 2012. Image by Nathan Willers

Calling Hairspray a BIG musical is no joke. Lex Liang designed 100 costumes, 12 full sets, and 34 wigs for this musical comedy, and he used less than 6 bottles of Aqua Net.

Liang is no stranger to the FAC Theatre Company; he was on the creative team for A Year with Frogand Toad and has worked with Producing Artistic Director Scott RC Levy on previous productions. Additionally, Liang has worked internationally as a designer, consultant and stylist in theatre, film, fashion, interiors, and special events.

Hairstyle from the film Hairspray
Hairspray, a Broadway musical, was inspired by John Water’s 1988 film Hairspray, but the look of the FAC's production is quite different. In the film, hair and make-up are greatly exaggerated to add extra drama; large wigs were styled high, adding significant height to characters and included dramatic eye make-up. 

Hairspray takes place in the early 1960s and raises issues that are a real part of American history. The FAC Theatre Company's creative team wanted to give justice to that, and decided to go with a more realistic feel in the hair, make-up and costume department. A realistic look better reflects the time period and makes it easier for audiences to focus on the story,  making the characters relatable as real people rather than cartoonish caricatures.  

Cirgarette ad from the early 1960s

You wont find any chicken wire in the wigs or extreme use of liquid eye liner and teal eye-shadow in the FAC's production. Hairspray takes place in the early 1960s, but it’s a clean 50’s housewife look. “The biggest misconception that people have about American fashion in 1960 is micro minis, go-go boots, and Sassoon bobs,” explained Liang. The makeup has a very natural look with a clean eye and orangey-red lipstick. The makeup was inspired by Sears’ ads, old magazine ads, and cigarette ads.

While the hairstyles and make-up may appear tamed, a lot of spunk and dramatic fun was added to the sets, featuring pops of color, sparkle, and exaggerated geometric shapes.

Drew Frady as Edna Turnblad, Faith Goins and Desiree Myers
as the Dynamites, and Andrea Rutherford as Tracy Turnblad.
Image by Moxie Photography

Come see the FAC Theatre Company’s adaptation of this big, fat Broadway musical, and let us know what you think. Were you left dancing in the aisles?


ThursdaySunday, Closing June 3 | Buy Tickets

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