Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I’m Robert A. Easton (many people call me Bob), and I’m one of the producers for the upcoming Utah Rep / ATG Theatre Company joint production of the play “Grace” by award-winning playwright, Craig Wright. I have also volunteered to serve as dramaturg for the production.
This week’s blog will differ from the focus of the previous blogs which were all about the work of people you’d expect to read a theatre blog about: the writer, the actors, the director. This one will be about the talented, skillful and much-needed makeup artist, Kelly Donahue.
Any production of “Grace” needs a gifted makeup professional due to the script including a key character who has been badly disfigured on half his face by a tragic automobile accident that also took the life of his fiancé. For half the play, this disfigurement is covered by bandages and a mask, but they are removed later on, revealing what the character, Sam (played by the incomparable actor JayC Stoddard), had previously kept hidden from the world, ashamed of how horrible he now felt he looked.
For this job, director JC Carter knew just who to call, and hired Kelly Donahue immediately.
“For Sam’s character, I came up with a design that is inspired by realism,” says Donahue of her work researching similar injuries and their scarring effects, “but adapted it to fit the character and a look the audience will expect.”
But this production of “Grace” also needed the services of a highly skilled makeup artist far more than any other we’re aware of due to the fact that we cast a 50-year-old actor to play a character much older, 34 four years older in fact.
“I had to cast a younger man (brilliant actor Jeffrey Owen) to play the role of an 84-year-old,” explains director Carter. “Considering the intimacy of the Sugar Space (where we’ll perform the show), I knew standard theatrical makeup wouldn’t cut it, but I also knew I had Kelly. Her work to age him just for the publicity photos was so outstanding, and I know that was just a rush job compared to what she has planned.”
“I first met Kelly when we worked together on ‘Steadman & Walker’ for The Hive Theatre Company,” continues Carter, who is himself a theatrical and film makeup professional. “I could tell from the start that she really knew her way around special effects makeup and quickly asked her to step in as makeup artist for Utah Rep’s ‘Bonnie & Clyde,’ which I was producing. She got great critical acclaim for her work on that show and deservedly so.”
“This show is quite the challenge!” admits Donahue. “Two major make-ups, and if I do things right, people won’t think ‘MAKEUP!’ when they see the performance. A show in such an intimate setting requires special attention to detail. This includes life-casting our actors to sculpt makeup prosthetics that fit them perfectly. I’ll use silicone because its skin like texture will better match the actors and allow free movement so they can focus on becoming their characters. The ultimate goal is to have people simply see the character, not the actor in makeup.”
To see all of Kelly Donahue’s hard work pay off on stage, as well as some first-class acting from our cast and stellar contributions from all our crew members, be sure not to miss “Grace” which opens April 25 and closes May 10. It will be performed at the Sugar Space in Salt Lake City and is a Utah premiere. Tickets for the show are now on sale. We hope to see you there and also hope you enjoy the show.