Ever wondered how the cast of CATS! The Musical get their makeup so purrrrr-fect?
Last week, we were invited to an insightful backstage makeup session with three lovely members of the cast, Emily Keane, Taylor Scanlan and James Cooper, who warmly welcomed us into the world of Cats.
Watching the backstage character transition itself was relatively quick and efficient, with actors spending a mere 20 minutes perfecting their fine facial features. Each individual painted their faces to suit their own cat’s personality and breed, whether that be scruffy and rough or sleek and sexy.
Speaking of sleek and sexy, Emily Keane was the epitome of this description in her character as Siamese cat, Cassandra. Onstage, Cassandra is smooth and fluid in every movement, evoking a certain sense of alluring sensuality that no other cat on stage can match.
“Being a Siamese cat, I am soft and furless – essentially naked in appearance,” Emily explains, “My makeup needs to match this silky fur look, so I focus a lot on contouring with clean lines.”
Emily’s professed favourite part of the process is crafting the eyebrows, particularly making that dramatic flick on the ends, which is almost like doing a winged eyeliner! Ladies, take notes.
James Cooper, who plays both Admetus and Macavity, goes for a more scruffy look and completes his furry face in record time, having perfected the art to a T. He mixes oranges and whites for a ginger tabby cat appearance.
Admetus and Macavity have always traditionally been portrayed as fantastically fluffy felines, and the roles of both characters are normally filled by the likes of an exceptional dancer.
James, who is the perfect fit for this role given his wealth of experience in dance and dance teaching, needs to ensure his makeup remains in tact through all the jumping, dancing and sweating his character goes through1! James tells us that he 100% swears by an oil-based primer which ensures his face will not run throughout the night. We need to invest in a primer like his!
Taylor Scanlan’s character Bill Bailey is different yet again and, being the little baby kitten of the group, his facial features are more soft and round. With facial features that are already naturally quite youthful in appearance, Taylor has no trouble making his round kitten eyes pop with a few eyeliner techniques.
Taylor’s tip is not to be too detailed in application. “Just chuck it on,” he says, “It’s stage make-up, so although we do get up close and personal with the audience every now and again, our faces are still only seen in action while there’s a whole lot of other stuff going on.”
“Stage make-up needs to be bold and vibrant, not perfect.”
Adding the final touch with a giant, furry afro to match, Taylor looks as if he’s ready to pounce on stage!
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is no doubt an iconic masterpiece, being one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. The elaborate costume and makeup design really does enhance the enchanting experience that is Cats, and the musical’s outstanding longevity just stands as testament to this. Cats will be showing in Adelaide until 10th of April at the Adelaide Festival Centre, so don’t miss out; grab your tickets here!