In the latest in our series delving into the daily goings on in every theatre in London, we spoke to The Phantom Of The Opera’s Tanya Noor to find out exactly what the life of a Make-Up Supervisor in one of the West End’s most iconic musicals is like, especially when you’re tasked with creating one of musical theatre’s most famous faces…
From shopping trips to grab those all-important wet wipes and the necessity of a really good glue to the art of make-up mixology and stage prosthetic, the life of a Make-Up Supervisor is a world away from the mascara and blusher you might first imagine…
The first thing I do everyday is:
Get out of bed far too early! The first thing I do when I get work is put the kettle on.
My place of work looks like:
I work at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It’s a great building to work in; it’s very spacious and full of history. I have my own make-up room which is kind of an ensuite to The Phantom’s dressing room, so we share the space which also includes a kitchenette and a bathroom. My make-up room has plenty of storage, a really comfy make-up chair and lots of light. It also has a collection of photos spanning the last 20 years backstage at Phantom which is added to regularly.
An average day for me involves:
I am usually up around 06:00 and do a few hours teaching or working on my make-up artist set bag business before heading into Phantom. There’s always show shopping to be done (wet wipes, tissues, skincare, make-up etc), which I usually do when I get into town on my way to the theatre.
When I get to work, I stick the kettle on and have a cuppa whilst unpacking the shopping. The rest of the day is spent cleaning brushes, prepping and painting pieces, mixing colours, ordering stock and sorting through the CVs and work experience requests. Once I’ve got everything set up for the show I have an hour’s break around 17:30. Depending on who my Phantom is, the make-up process can start anytime between 18:30 and 19:10. The Phantom make-up needs constant maintenance so it’s always a busy show for me.
The people I work with mostly are…
…everyone, because I am responsible for all the cast members’ make up. However, I spend most of my time with The Phantom. The Phantom doesn’t really get to see anyone else during the show apart from myself, his dresser and ‘wiggy’. I try and give him as much privacy as is possible when sharing a room, especially during the interval when I catch up with our fantastic wig department (whilst having another cuppa).
The tool I can’t do without is:
That’s a tricky one as I use an awful lot of products and tools to create The Phantom’s make-up. However, a really good glue to firmly secure his prosthetic pieces and bald cap without irritating the skin is essential.
The best part of my day is usually:
When I get to the point in the show when I know everything has run smoothly and everyone’s make-up has looked good and stayed put!
The worst part of my day is usually:
I usually finish work at…
…22:15 and go straight home to my bed.
The most glamorous part of my job is:
Being a make-up artist isn’t a glamorous job, although every now and then I do get to go to some glam events and I get given some very nice presents.
The least showbiz part of my job is:
Dealing with all the sweat – especially in the summer – and the constant cleaning of kit, tools and work surfaces.
My work mantra is:
When it comes to work, whatever job you’re doing you get out of it what you put into it and you should do it properly or not at all.
The advice I’d give anyone wanting to do my job is:
Gain the technical skills required, get as much work experience as possible and learn how to deal with each artist as an individual.
To do this job, you have to be…
…hard working, flexible and good at problem solving. You also need to be able to get on with people. Having an ego won’t help you, but being confident in your skills and your artist having confidence in you is very important.