Stage makeup changes the theater community at liberal arts school in Collegeville. This is just a small representation of how increased knowledge of stage makeup skills can change performances in the theater industry.

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Photo courtesy of Ursinus College Theater.

The theater community has always been big at Ursinus and what comes along with that is, of course, makeup. Ursinus now offers a class specific to stage makeup to all students interested. Many students have taken advantage of this class for purposes such as gaining knowledge in makeup and appearance for a stage performance.

Students involved in the theatre have shared their opinions about stage makeup and appearance for their performances at the college. This new class is titled THEA-241, “Makeup for the Actor” which is taught by Brian Strachan. It offers full insight on how stage makeup is completed and how to take an inspiration and turn it into one’s own work.

The class begins each week with a short slide show running through examples of different forms of the week’s lesson. This past week’s lesson was old age makeup. Strachan, the instructor, showed his students different images of actors and actresses in their old-age makeup and then showed them an image of their face without the makeup.

“My favorite lesson thus far was the old-age makeup, this truly shows how makeup can be deceptive and manipulating but that’s the fun!” says Rachel Rhindress, a student of the stage makeup class.

Rachel makeup

Photo by Rachel Rhindress

Once each student has a grasp on the concept, they draft their own ideas. Each student performs the week’s lesson on themselves, usually Friday’s, after preparation and practice with materials earlier in the week.

The class has much purpose at a school like Ursinus. Being a liberal arts school means there is much overlap between intellectual and professional knowledge in addition to the knowledge of the arts. Therefore, at Ursinus the theater productions are quite popular where much of the study body attend.

“I go to as many plays as I can on campus to support my friends and fraternity brothers that are involved in productions” says Matthew Radwanski, proud supporter of Ursinus theatre.

Stage makeup helps immensely when embracing a day in the life of an actor. According to Blake Thompson, a current theatre major at Ursinus, and star in many of the plays.

“Makeup is entirely the call of the costume designer. If he or she wants the cast to wear makeup then we wear makeup. For example, I may have to wear old age makeup to indicate old age or a jump in the setting. In high school, I was in makeup for every show. Again, depending on the character of course. When I played a Wickersham Brother in “Seussical” my makeup was made to look like a monkey.”

Blake monkey

Photo by Blake Thompson.

Stage makeup and costume choice is all about embracing the roles of the characters these theatre stars play. Some actors and actresses even feel more fit to play the role of the character with makeup on.

“Makeup helps me feel more in tune with my character, it helps adopt the physical form of the character in order to feel what they would feel, says Rhindress, “it helps me, personally give my best performances.”

In order to understand the effects of makeup on the roles in theatre, the artists must also be in touch with the same idea. They should be able to communicate through makeup.


Photo by CYT.

“When I do others’ makeup it makes me feel like I am helping them not only look good for the audience or the cameras, but also helping them in their careers” says, Nicole Cullura, alumni of Ursinus and makeup associate.

According to Angela Mitchell from ThoughtCo. A Basic Guide To Applying Stage Makeup, one must use brand makeup while applying makeup for stage performance. Being able to guarantee professional quality for a performance places a lot more confidence in the artist and the performer. Some good professional brands include Ben Nye, Mehron, and Kryolan. The stage makeup class at Ursinus offers the use of these products. Rhindress says Ben Nye is her personal favorite product to use in and outside of the class.


Thoughco Photos.

Stage makeup is an important part of the performing arts. Though many people do not realize it is a key factor in a performer’s confidence, there are many resources available to understand the concept and learn how to apply makeup for a great look and a great performance.


Sources: Rachel Rhindress-

Blake Thompson-

Matthew Radwanski-

Nicole Cullura- 267-300-8585

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