Backstage At Pan Productions’ The Producers



 Haritha Shan touching up Safia Hanifah (Ulla)

As the official makeup sponsor of Pan Productions’ The Producers, MAC Cosmetics’ work began months before the musical started to run at KLPAC as they prepared the cast for publicity shots and media appearances. It’s always interesting to be able to have backstage access whether it’s for a fashion show or theatre production as I can see what the make-up artists use to create the looks. I spoke to Haritha Shan, MAC Malaysia’s Senior Artist regarding the make-up looks created for this production.

How would you describe the overall make-up look for this production?

It’s a 1950s look as the style of dressing is from that era. There’s a cabaret ensemble and the men wear suits and fedora hats.

Which feature of the face is the emphasis on?

The emphasis is on the eyes as this is a musical so the focus is on the expressions. Lighting is dim and yellow so the eye look is brighter. When the light hits the actor’s faces, the eyes have to shine. The whole production is mainly on showgirls – the complexion is kept matte because they will sweat a lot. Most of the characters are playing full roles so they only have a quick change of costume before running out to the stage again. Complexion is not dewy and there is no shine. I have used Full Coverage Foundation which is a PRO product, Most of the make-up we use here are PRO products as they are very suitable for stage make-up. We use Lipmix (a highly pigmented opaque cream used to mix and customize lipstick, to create any color, texture or look desired for lipcolour). With the ensemble singing, we have to keep the lip colour long-lasting. Some of the lip products I have used are Embrace Me Lip Pencil and Viva Glam Nikki 2 Lipstick.

Facechart of Ulla

Face chart for Ulla by Haritha Shan

How many members are on your team everyday and when does call time start?

We have 10 MAC make-up artists everyday. On weekdays when there is only 1 show, we work from 4pm-12am and on weekends when there are 2 shows, we work from 11am-12am (yes that’s no mistake, 13 long hours!).

Do you have to change the make-up in between the 1st and end show?

There are some minor changes because for example, when Ulla appears in the 2nd half of the 1st show, there are sparkles on her eyelids which have to be changed back to no sparkles when she appears in the 1st half of the 2nd show.

How were you inspired in coming up with the make-up looks?

Nell Ng (director of The Producers) gave the inspiration by explaining what the musical is all about. Then I googled and researched on the characters to try to get inspiration for the looks. We sent Nell photos of the looks for her approval. Nell has total trust in the MAC team and has never failed to like anything that we have come up for her.

Female Ensemble 2

Ensemble look

Do you assign make-up artists to any particular actors?

Other than the 3 main leads whose make-up are done by myself, Shahrum and Reyo, the rest of the cast’s make-up is done by whichever MAC make-up artist is available. There are 20 characters altogether in this production.

What are some mistakes or pitfalls of stage make-up to avoid?

Before deciding on the foundation shade for each actor, check the stage lighting. Only then can you decide if the colour is too dim. The foundation can be wrong if you don’t look at the stage lighting. If the lighting is too dim, the actor should look a bit more tanned.


Silver Dusk Iridescent Powder

What products have you used on the body?

MAC’s Strobe Cream, Nivea Cream or any body moisturiser and Silver Dusk Iridescent Powder (a finely milled mixture of Mica and pigments which gives the skin a beautiful sheen).

Do you have a preference between working backstage at fashion shows or stage productions?

Runway and stage are totally different exposures. For runway, we usually follow the 4 MAC make-up trends for the season. Oftentimes, runway make-up is about minimalism whereas we have to be more heavy-handed with the make-up for stage because of harsher lighting. For runway make-up, we follow the designer’s direction, for e.g. he might require more funky and colourful make-up but we still keep contouring soft and more diffused. With stage make-up, we have to take into account dim and bright lighting as well as constantly moving lights so the actors need to look more made up as their expressions are the focus so we play with texture more for stage make-up.

All images (other than image of Silver Dusk Powder) are courtesy of MAC Malaysia.