Parlando: The COC Blog


The Making of a Stepsister

What does it take to transform an everyday person into Tosca, Don Carlo, or Figaro (besides, oh, years of vocal and stage training)?  Every character on stage needs to have a distinctive look and personality, and theatrical costumes and stage makeup are an important part of making sure the character cuts an impressive figure even for someone watching from the Fifth Ring. Last week, a small group of COC donors were invited to view a makeup and costume demonstration, giving them a rare glimpse into the inner workings of this transformation. An audience member was transformed into Clorinda, one of Cinderella's stepsisters, wearing the same costume and makeup that will be used in our upcoming production. I took the opportunity to snap some photos of the process.


The makeup usually goes on before the costume. Here is our volunteer near the beginning of the process, wearing a wig cap and a smock.

Sharon Ryman, the COC's wig and makeup supervisor, uses this makeup chart as a reference. It outlines exactly what is needed for this character, including a diagram of what the finished product should look like. Here are some of the guidelines: 

  • Thin and well-drawn eyebrows in black.
  • Eyelids in light green.
  • Shadows on cheekbones.
  • Rhombus-shaped green mole.
  • Very definite lips in intense red.

Stage makeup is usually much bolder and more exaggerated than everyday makeup, and in this production of Cinderella it's taken to even greater extremes. The visual style is almost cartoonish, and meant to evoke a storybook feel.


In this photo you can see how makeup is used to exaggerate the contours of her face.


In this photo, eye makeup has been applied and her brows penciled in.


The "rhombus-shaped green mole" or beauty mark, as well as lip colour, is added last. Now she begins to get into her costume. She's already wearing the light-coloured bloomers that go under the skirt.



Costume supervisor Sandra Corazza helps her with this corset. As Sandra explains, the corset has stretchy lycra panels to accommodate the deep, torso-expanding breaths the singers will need to take, and very generous seam allowances so that it can be easily modified for singers of different shapes. 


The colourful pink skirt goes on next. Underneath she is wearing a "bum pad" (a large cushion) around her hips to make the skirt flare out and emphasize the waist. 


Sharon helps her on with the large pink wig. 


In the final step, Sandra fastens her bodice.



Of course, there are shoes and accessories to go with the costume. In some of the earlier photos you can see her wearing the pink string of beads. 



Here's the finished product! Perfect for attending balls, flirting with princes, and terrorizing sisters.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (5) / permalink

Pamela Perrault (3/22/2011 1:16:00 PM)
Totally amazing. Attention to detail, craftsmanship, beauty - perfection! What I wouldn't give to spend a day (or a lifetime) in your costume department!
Definitely the Opera (3/22/2011 2:21:00 PM)
Sharon, Sandra and the two volunteer models were amazing.
Ingrid Mida of Fashion is my Muse (3/22/2011 3:59:00 PM)
What fun! Wish I'd been there.
Mike Lewandowski (3/24/2011 10:52:00 PM)
Great article allowing the public behind the scenes look at your fascinating job. Just a few of the magicians working behind the scenes to make the COC productions so incredible.
(3/31/2011 6:23:00 PM)
that is so wonderful to see!!

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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