The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is opening its final show of the season, ”One Man, Two Guvnors” this weekend. For the team of craftspeople backstage that brings the shows to life on stage, the close of the season brings an end to a lot of work — but for them, it’s a labor of love.
Nicholas Lynch-Voris is the wig and makeup supervisor, they estimate the team created close to 30 wigs for this season.
“We originally were starting off with 20, but now we might be looking at closer to 30 and then we've got a mountain of facial hair we're gonna work our way through,” Lynch-Voris said as work was progressing earlier in the season.
What does this wig-making entail? Lynch-Voris said it’s a detailed and time intensive process.
“We're going to hand tie individual strands of hair into holes of lace to create customized pieces for every single performer that we have. And each one of those wigs will take somewhere between 12 and 15 hours to complete from start to finish,” Lynch-Voris said.
Lynch-Voris said another wig needed to be built entirely from scratch, and that that one could take 20 to 30 hours.
People attending the festival see all the work done by the company’s most visible members, the actors. But there’s an army of people making the shows happen behind the scenes. That, yes, includes wig makers, but also set builders, costumers, all manner of designers … and directors too.
Tim Orr, the producing artistic director of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Wendy Franz, the managing director, are each directing shows this season. Franz helmed “The Winter's Tale,” and now under Orr’s direction, the same cast opens in ”One Man, Two Guvnors” by Richard Bean.
“It's absolutely a ridiculous comedy, but it's based on “The Servant of Two Masters” by Goldoni, which is a very, very old comedy,” Orr said. “So that kind of fits into our classical mission and nature. But to take a play that old on … and kind of look at it through an “Austin Powers”-type of lens, it's just perfect and right in our wheelhouse.”
And one thing about Shakespeare, and Austin Powers … there are a lot of wigs.
Though the wigs can be used from season to season and reconfigured as needed, Lynch-Voris said all the pieces that they’re building this season are specific to the designs of the show.
Ivy Vidal is a wig and makeup apprentice. She just graduated from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley in South Texas two weeks before beginning this job.
“I started ventilating at my university about four months ago.” Vidal said of the process of wig-making while showing one she was working on. “This is like the first year of me doing this. So far in the past week and a half. I've almost finished this one, and I did a mustache.”
Vidal said doing facial hair is a much smaller scale so they're quicker to get out, “but you do have to also trace their faces to match. Very fun,” Vidal said.
Leena Summer returns for their second season and is the wig and makeup technician.
“The company itself is, I would say very well run, everyone's just genuinely nice. Like especially my first couple weeks last year, our like big leaders … would all stop by and be like, ‘Hey, how's it going? Just checking in, popping in to say hi. Do you need anything?’ Which is genuinely really comforting and I feel very supported in this environment,” Summer said.
Summer is pursuing their master's degree at the University of Alabama.
The designers for “One Man, Two Guvnors,” the final production to open this season, are married couple Matthew S. Crane, the scenic designer, and Sarah Zinn, the costume designer. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival alternates shows, and many components of costumes and sets from one show are reused in another.
“The big piece that we're reusing actually is the tracking platforms that were also on stage for ‘The Winter’s Tale,’” Crane said. “And the trap plays a quite important part in one of our scenes and ‘One Man,’ without giving anything away.”
“Our wonderful wardrobe supervisor, she does actually track some of their undergarments between the two shows, but that's about all that's reusable between the two,” Zinn said.
Both Crane and Zinn worked at the festival last season, but in different jobs.
“It's so exciting to come back as designers. I grew up here in Boulder, so my grandparents took me every summer to the Shakespeare Festival. So it's pretty exciting to be here,” Zinn said.
“And I was just excited to just spend time in a theater again, honestly, and just get to, you know, spread some of that joy of creating live theater,” Crane said.
The newlyweds say working out the schedule for which one feeds the cats — at home, not on stage — has been the only logistical challenge.
“One Man, Two Guvnors” opens Sunday, July 22. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival continues through August 13.
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