Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Makings Of A Showgirl
Being a professional performer comes with many advantages. You get to travel to places that would normally be out of reach. You get to make people happy, and forget about their problems. You get to sing and dance, and escape from your own life for a moment, and breath life into a character that are just words on a page without you. And... you get to act like an over the top showgirl from time to time.
I enjoy sweat pants. A lot. I would wear them to everything I possibly could if it were socially acceptable, but now that I am out of college and working in the real world I am learning that it is important to portray yourself as someone who actually owns clothes you shouldn't sleep in. I have been known to rarely ever wear makeup, my flip-flops are my shoes of choice, and I wear whatever is clean and makes me look skinny that day. Well. I am quickly discovering that this is not the ways of a showgirl.
Showgirls are these lovely creatures that can manipulate the costumes they are given, no matter how ridiculous they are and make them look fabulous on stage. Even the most over the top stage makeup looks stunning on them. They can wield their brushes and their paste like make up and the moment they waltz on the stage eyes go directly to them. Sequins, feathers, skimpy outfits and fake eyelashes are the staples of a showgirl's wardrobe... and I have come to the realization that as an up-and coming showgirl I must dive into this unknown world of glitz and glamour head first.
I received this wake up call when I went on as Tracy in Hairspray about 5 months ago. After my whirlwind costume fitting and running places and choreography, I went into the dressing room and began to "get ready." As I sat at my mirror, I glanced at the showgirl veterans around me and realized I was so out of my league. Of course, this was not my first professional show by any means, but in shows past we had either had make-up done for us, or it was a period piece and no make-up was used at all. Well, I quickly learned that both if these instances were a rarity and that I had to learn how to make my face stage ready, not just my voice... and I had about 5 minutes to engage in a crash course. I faked my way through getting the basics down, but when it came to my eyes and cheeks I was obviously lost. When I was asked where my fake lashes were, I just kind of shrugged, chiding myself for not having known that I should have them. I have been in the business for almost two years... how could I have overlooked false eyelashes! Thank goodness the costume shop had an extra pair... but then I had to put them on. When all of the other amazon goddesses (who really are lovely) left the room I went to my dear Negdra who played Motormouth Mabel and bashfully told her I had no idea what I was doing. She put those things on faster than I could hike up my tights. And that's when I realized... I am still a young grasshopper, and I have MUCH to learn.
With my new show coming around the bend, I have taken it upon myself to be more prepared. I can't really get away with not knowing how to do these things anymore, as I am very blessed and my resume is steadily growing. So with each paycheck I have been updating my wardrobe with more appropriate clothing (bargain shopping to the max for sure), frequenting the Mac store and purchasing stage makeup and practicing applying it once everyone else has gone to bed.. and last night, I tackled the false eyelashes.
I went to my local sally's to by the cheapest pair I could find as they would only be used for practice and went home to begin my lesson for the day. I watched several tutorials on youtube and once I felt that I could tackle the unknown, I tried to do it myself. Well the first try was horrid. I thought that they were at my lash line when in reality they were in the middle of my eyelid. I looked like a first time drag queen. So I tried again. While it was better that time, they wouldn't stay on, so the third time I just applied more glue so they would stay. Well I got glue happy I guess and that's when the horror ensued. I glued my eye shut. Utterly shut. It took me twenty minutes to pry my eye back open and get all the glue out of my natural lashes. And even then every time I blinked there was a delay when my eyes were supposed to open again. Needless to say I was discouraged. And scared. So I threw in the towel and thought I would try again another time. But several hours later I was frustrated enough to try again. Its false eyelashes for goodness sakes. I have gotten jobs in some of the best regional theatres without much help, and I couldn't apply my own lashes? It was time I looked the part I have been playing and hope to play for years to come. After many many more tries and careful amounts of glue I did it. I applied a now lifeless pair of false eyelashes on my lids. 3 times. And I am very proud of myself.
I know that clothes and makeup and lashes and sequins aren't what the business is all about, trust me if it were I would get very bored and be actually rather disgusted with it. But it is a part of it. And I want to be the very best that I can possibly be in everything I do, whether that's creating a character, or gluing on some lashes. Not to mention in kind of makes me feel pretty. This is the beginning of a legitimate showgirl in the making, and I can't wait to see where it takes me!