Merrily We Go Along : Q & A With Haritha Shan



For the past few years, MAC Cosmetics has supported Pan Productions’ musicals such as Cabaret, The Wizard of Oz and The Producers by providing makeup artists backstage. This year however, due to many internal activities, MAC has been unable to provide makeup artists backstage full-time but is still supporting the production by creating face charts for the cast as well as all the makeup needed for the looks. Haritha Shan, MAC’s Senior Makeup Artist talks about MAC’s involvement in Merrily We Go Along which is showing at KLPAC Pentas 2 till 25th May 2014. The musical was written by Stephen Sondheim and focuses on 3 very close friends who worked together and the uniqueness of the musical is that it goes back in time from 1976 to 1957.

How many looks did you have to create and were they largely similar?

17 looks and although they were largely similar, we had to customize them so that the cast could feel they were prioritized. It starts from makeup looks of the 70s going back to the 50s.

How did you come up with the looks and what was the inspiration?

I googled and turned to Youtube to watch the musical. We customized the looks to suit the local market and products from MAC’s regular range were used.

What are the main considerations to take into account when doing the makeup for this musical?

To understand the characters, I went to director Nell Ng’s studio to watch the rehearsals. I had to understand the face structure and characters to create the looks and consider whether the look would suit the character.

face charts

Did the fact that the story being told in reverse play a major consideration in creating the looks and pose any specific challenges to you?

The only challenge is that we are not backstage creating the looks this time but most of the cast have been with Pan Productions for many years and they are no strangers to doing their own makeup. Maybe I feel a bit paranoid that this time I am not touching their faces. MAC Cosmetics hopes to take part in more projects if people are able to handle their own makeup. We hope to support 2 musicals in 12 months with this kind of arrangement.

When did you start conceptualizing the looks?

We were approached by Pan Productions about 7 months ago, we had discussions about the looks 2 weeks ago and we came up with the face charts and provided individual makeup bags which contained all the makeup each cast needed one week ago. Each bag contains customized foundation, colours and lashes.

Who is your favourite character in this musical?

I don’t have a particular favourite but perhaps I will have after I have watched the entire show.

Did you have to state the techniques to be used in the face charts?

We offered to coach the cast by organizing a workshop but Nell said that wasn’t necessary as she had confidence in the cast’s ability to apply the makeup according to the face charts.