The Making of the Beast

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2013 at 12:00 am
Making of the Beast

Photos by Tom Rivers – William Grimble, in full costume, performs as the Beast in Albion’s production of Beauty and the Beast.

ALBION – When Melinda Grimble saw her son for the first time in full costume as the Beast, she couldn’t tell who was under the layers of makeup.

William Grimble, one of the stars in Albion High School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” on March 22-23, was transformed into the menacing character. He wore claw feet, a long wig, horns, and a prosthetic on his face.

“When he was in full makeup and hair, I didn’t recognize him,” Mrs. Grimble said.

William’s costume was months in the making. Gary Simboli, the musical director, fused two wigs together, using hot glue to join a blond haired wig with a black one. The blond wig matched the color of the Ben Kirby’s hair. He plays the prince before William was turned into the hideous creature.

“With the black wig, I needed to darken up his hair,” Simboli said.

The long black tresses add to sinister mood with the Beast.

Albion performed Beauty and the Beast nine years ago. Back then, the Beast had a simpler costume. Simboli added a prosthetic with horns and a nose to the costume this time. Instead of having William do a quick costume change near the end of the show, when he is transformed back into the prince, Simboli had Kirby reappear as the prince.

That meant Simboli could develop a better costume for William, who wouldn’t have to wipe off the makeup and beast-wear for the musical’s final act.

Simboli and Grimble agreed to let a photographer show the process of turning the high school senior into the Beast.

It was a Saturday morning, the second day of the show, on March 23. William arrived in the chorus room at about 10 a.m., two hours before the curtains opened at noon. He was freshly showered after the previous night’s performance.

Step 1: Apply spirit gum, a facial glue on William’s nose. That will help hold down the rubber mask that includes the nose, wrinkled forehead, horns and hair.

Step 2: Apply a cream base makeup. It “even outs the skin tone,” Simboli said.

By the end of the show, many of the students are tired, and would otherwise have dark circles under their eyes. “The makeup makes them look fresh and vibrant,” Simboli said.

Step 3: Apply the mask and wig. William presses the mask to his nose, trying to get it to stick to his skin.

“Suddenly it’s quite warmer in here,” he said once the mask is on his head.

Step 4: Simboli uses several bobby pins to secure the mask and wig to William’s hair. They forgot the bobby pins the previous night, and were relieved the mask and wig stayed on during the fighting scene with Gaston.

Step 5: Simboli uses liner pencils to “enhance the natural features in a distorted way” on William’s face. The students that play older characters have lines drawn on their faces. Simboli wants them to look older. He tries to follow the natural contours on the students’ faces. That’s tricky with teen-agers.

“They’re so young they don’t have wrinkles,” Simboli said.

He has an image of William as the Beast from the previous night. It’s on a cell phone. Simboli liked how the Beast turned out, and he uses that image as a guide on March 23.

Making of the Beast

Gary Simboli, the high school musical director, helps William Grimble with his makeup before a performance of Beauty and the Beast on March 23.

Simboli adds reddish-orange and yellow lines to William’s face, in addition to brown and white. The reddish-orange and yellow match the prosthetic. The brown shows recesses and shadows. The white: “It pops on stage.”

Simboli took a makeup class at Geneseo State College, where he was a music major three decades ago. He has a makeup book opened in the chorus room. He refers to the book while working on the Beast and some of the other characters.

It takes Simboli about 20 minutes to turn William into the Beast. Simboli’s last touch: a dark flesh-tone of lipstick. That will make the Beast’s lips more distinctive on stage.
Simboli is pleased with the makeover.

“It’s Disney,” he declared. “It has to be larger than life.”

William isn’t quite done. He is sent to Val Pettit, the choreographer who is helping with makeup. She puts powder on William’s face to help the makeup set and not be so shiny. Then she shoots his face with Barrier Spray, which seals the makeup and helps prevent it from running. The school rents many of the costumes. The spray helps protect the costumes from running makeup.

Pettit said there is bound to be some drips.

“These kids sweat a lot,” she said. “They work hard on stage.”