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Going Green: 7 Backstage Secrets at ‘Wicked’

May 9, 2018 by Suzy Evans
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It’s not easy being green. Thirty minutes before the curtain rises on Oz at the Gershwin Theatre, Broadway’s Elphaba begins getting green. Current Elphaba, Jackie Burns, gave us the inside scoop with makeup supervisor Craig Jessup on the greenifying process and all the tips and tricks of the trade.

Leave the door open.
Being Elphaba can get a little lonely, according to Burns. Although she says you never have any time to yourself because “Team Green” comes in to prep, she rarely gets to see her co-stars. “We both keep our door open so that we can talk to each other and then everybody stops by,” Burns says of her and current Galinda, Amanda Jane Cooper, “A lot of people think, ‘Oh she’s busy getting green, we don’t want to bug her,’ and it’s so lonely because I never get to see anybody in the ensemble.”

There are many shades of green.
To get the perfect green girl tone, Jessup uses several different products to create the ideal hue. He starts with MAC Studio Sculpt foundation in NW20 as a base, then applies MAC Chroma Cake in Landscape Green with a Japanese Hake brush. Then he uses Kryolan TV Paint Stick in 511 and Kryolan Derma Color waterproof loose powder in P1. There are a lot of layers to the magic!

One of the eyeshadows is discontinued. So “Wicked” bought the remaining stock.
Jessup uses three MAC eyeshadows for Elphaba’s look: Vanilla, Carbon, and Fig. 1. The last was discontinued, but they bought the remaining stock, and now all of the “Wicked” companies share in the bounty.

The wet-willies are the hardest part.
Every part of Burns needs to be green, and some parts are less comfortable than others. “Literally when they put this wet, green paintbrush down your ear. That’s not my favorite part,” she says with a laugh. “I get a wet-willie every day.”

There’s a different lip color for Act 1 and Act 2.
For the first half of the show, Jessup applies Prestige eyeliner in Kiwi, but during intermission, he transitions to a darker lip, using MAC Chromagraphic pencil in Black Black, highlighted with Golden Oliver pigment.

It’s all about lighting.
There are two spotlights set up in the Elphaba dressing room, and both are focused on the wall so that light is diffused properly. “In the past when the walls have been painted a color other than white my eyes have gone through an adjustment period,” Jessup says.

Are you green yet?
While Elphabas come and go, there’s one piece of décor that never changes. Jessup bought a piece of folk art in Providence, R.I., that says, “Are you green yet?” While it’s meant to be a commentary on being environmentally conscious, Jessup loved the “double meaning” for “Wicked.”

Photos by Jenny Anderson