The Other Backstage Beauty

Photo by: Hershey Miller

This isn’t a fashion show. No tips and tricks from the runway here. Though I have spent a lot of time backstage recently– in an Off-Broadway play! My first play, and luckily I had as a stage mom the lovely and talented Rochelle Bostrom, whose makeup kit is (almost) as expansive as her acting range. Rochelle and I played mother and daughter in a new play called Austin. Sadly the run has ended but we hope to reunite soon, to play a mother and daughter who are more best friends than butting heads. One challenge was the daunting world of stage makeup. It’s a phrase which calls to mind clownish blush and false eyelashes. The Lion, where we performed, is a smaller Off-Broadway theatre– the perfect size for an intimate family drama, and for natural-looking stage makeup, which came as a huge relief.

My daily routine consists of tinted moisturizer and lip balm, so anything more is already a stretch. But Rochelle and I had so much fun sharing products and creating our pre-show routines that all the makeup became less of a stretch and more of a nightly treat.

It began with the organization of side-by-side dressing tables. The thrill of having a dressing room was almost eclipsed by its lack of temperature regulation and cell service, but how could I let that ruin the experience? Plus my wardrobe for the show ranged from a black bikini to a fluffy bathrobe, making it easy to combat the elements between scenes. Rochelle’s side tended to be neater, with every product in its place– “very Petra,” as we said. Petra was the other Rochelle and the neurotic but well-meaning mother to my rebellious teenager, Dory. Roch discovered a Face Stockholm Lipliner named Bella, the perfect conservative but still warm, rosy pink.

While Face Stockholm has yet to release a product called Dory, I did find the Smart Wheel in Bright perfect for the glossy pink lips and cheeks of a sixteen-year-old girl. Sometimes, to channel her impulsive, carefree nature– and to keep things fresh for myself once I no longer worried about forgetting my lines– I would even spin the wheel, so to speak, and choose a lipgloss color at random.

The ritual of backstage beauty was integral to our transformation into character. While curling her naturally straight hair (and spraying it more times than I cared to inhale), applying her Bella Lipliner (as lipstick, for a matte texture and maximum coverage), Pressed Mineral Powder, and various Matte Eyeshadows, I watched Rochelle become Petra. As for myself, it took lots of Cake Eyeliner in Power, Cream Blush in Tripoli, plus every lipgloss under the sun to transform into Dory– “sixteen and out of control” according to Petra’s loving description.

We also developed a few other routines– Camomile tea for her, black coffee for me. She introduced me to the complete works of Fiona Apple and the importance of vocal warmups. I’d kick off every show with some stretches and a spritz of Le Labo perfume– the vanilla I’d have worn if I could afford it when I was sixteen.

My first onstage experience– also my first backstage experience– could not have been better. Our dressing room, which looked and smelled so good that the guys always wanted to hang out there, was a sort of magical nexus where you walked in one person and walked out another. Thanks to Rochelle, it was stocked with all the best Face Stockholm, curated to fit both our characters, used night after night to create them. And although I tried to keep my side organized, I never could quite combat the messy sixteen-year-old girl I curled, sprayed, and powdered myself into night after night. Brushes were scattered, tinted moisturizer was spilled, and there was a collection of leftover coffee cups… Sorry mom!

Xx Michaela

Michaela and Rochelle