If you’ve ever thought about working behind the scenes of a show like the recently-ended London production of, Ceri Adams – who worked as Wigs Mistress on the show before its final performance on 30th May 2009 – gives us a further insight into what goes on in the wig room…
So how long does it take to put the wig on a cast member?
The boys – well, some take longer than others, because they’ve got facial hair as well, which they hate! But they all come up to the wig room and put their Potiphar wigs on before the show, because the change is so quick from brother to Potiphar and there’s not enough of us, for a start, to get all 11 brothers in Potiphar wigs. The only two that change into their Potiphar wigs during the show are Tom (Gillies, who plays Benjamin) because he has his own hair during the brother scenes, and Neal (Wright, who plays Judah) because Neal sweats so much his Potiphar wig wouldn’t stay on under his brother hat!
The rest of them have their brother hats and their ‘prayer curls’ put on over the top of their Potiphar wigs, so some take longer than others – if it’s Neal for example, he comes up to the wig room and it takes two minutes to put his beard and moustache on, then he just takes a hat and he’s done. For Tom – we have to curl his hair. He’s got longish hair, and we attach the prayer curls to his own hair. I didn’t start the show, but from what I’ve heard Tom originally had his hair curled to resemble Lee Mead slightly, because obviously Lee had curly hair and Benjamin is supposed to be the brother who has the closest resemblance to Joseph because they’re born from the same mother. So Tom takes a little bit longer because he’s got more preparation for the show.
And then it’s all the other brothers. Some wear facial hair which we have to tape to them, and then we put the Potiphar wig on and the hat and they’re done. Joseph takes a good 20 – 25 minutes – we put his makeup on and then do his wig right before the show. Jacob doesn’t really have very much, we do quick changes downstairs because Stephen Tate (who plays Jacob) also plays the guru and Potiphar as well. For Jenna, we roller her hair about 45 minutes before the show, and then go back to her 5 minutes before and put it up, pin her fringe back and things like that. That’s pretty much all that goes on in the wig room – everything else is done downstairs. The only other person who comes up here when the show starts is Dean. He has his hair and makeup done after the show’s started, but he doesn’t have his wig put on until the interval because he’s not on until Act 2 and it would be too hot.
So when you first get in you prepare in the wig room and then you take everything downstairs?
Yeah, once we’ve done the preparation we just put everything else in the baskets so they’re ready to bring down and put on the boys – all the girls put their own wigs on, the ones we tend to help are the boys who aren’t as good at things like that! But that’s practically it for the show. In Act 2 none of the girls wear wigs – the girls only have one wig throughout the whole show [for the Go Go Go Joseph number] but they have headdresses which we have to pin to their head, the big princess hat with the pom pom things which they still class as a wig because they’re made to measure their head, like you would a wig. And for the children – I give them hair grips and that’s it!
If the girls only wear one wig, how many do the boys wear?
The boys wear their Potiphar, they wear their hat and their prayer curls, and the 60s wig. Obviously Russell and Adam (Pearce) also wear the Butler and Baker wigs and Stephen Tate wears Jacob, Mr Potiphar, Guru and Jacob – so he’s got 4 changes.
Have you ever had any disasters?
We had one not long ago, when I had an asthma attack and there was only two other girls in. And running the show with two is really difficult, but it was fine – you just make it work! But trying to get 11 brothers done in here on your own is ridiculous – I have to be downstairs getting Gareth and Jenna ready, and then the other two are up here doing the brothers at the start and trying to get 11 of them or even 10 of them done – all the wigs on, and the hats, and the facial hair – with just one person is pretty near impossible…
Have you ever been close to the wire with getting everyone ready?
I don’t think we have been… but we had a wig fall off and we thought someone in the auditorium had taken it! During the show once, Nate’s wig flew off and went into the auditorium and we thought someone from the audience had taken it, but we found it… It was his 60’s Go Go Go Joseph wig. The synthetic ones are adjustable bands so you just adjust them at the back. It just so happens that Nate has got no hair so we can’t even pin it onto his head!
In the final installment of our interview – coming soon – Ceri talks us through the career path that led to her becoming Joseph’s Wigs Mistress.
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