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Student designs hair and makeup for 'Pippin'

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A row of mannequin heads in the costume shop of Phi Beta Kappa Hall are indistinguishable but for the wigs perched above their featureless faces. Long brown curls, short blonde wisps and choppy black locks each hint at a personality, a character, a story.

Ruth Hedberg ‘13 knows how important things like wigs are to helping theatre actors tell portray characters and transfix audiences. As a hair and makeup designer for the upcoming William & Mary production of “Pippin,” Hedberg is making sure that each character not only plays his or her part, but looks it as well.

It’s an opportunity that Hedberg relishes.

“I think it is a phenomenal aspect of our theatre department that they allow students to get into the process on this level,” said Hedberg, a theatre major. “With the proper training, we are allowed to assume roles that are normally filled by professors and participate in the process with some creative autonomy, which is quite the creative challenge but it's also invaluable experience.”

The W&M production of “Pippin,” directed by Laurie J. Wolf, opens Nov. 9 and runs through Nov. 18. The Tony Award-winning musical focuses on the son of Charlemagne as he looks for his purpose in life.

Because of the importance of disguises and false appearances in “Pippin,” Hedberg’s work in hair and makeup for the musical are vital to its successful telling. She is coordinating individualized makeup for more than 20 people in the show. Along with her wig work, Hedberg also had to find a way to make several people’s hair look like wigs.

“I am hoping the choices made in regards to makeup, hair, and wigs used in this Production of Pippin will help to highlight the individual features of each character in the show,” she said.

“The director Laurie Wolf and the cast members have put an enormous amount of work into the details of their characters, even for unnamed ensemble roles, and I hope to be able to enhance those character details through their hair and makeup.”

All of her work on “Pippin” has garnered Hedberg a new appreciation for her professors.

“I've definitely gained a more concrete appreciation for our professors who design on a regular basis,” she said. “Bringing all the aspects of design together to a cohesive concept is extremely challenging.”

For ticket information, call 757-221-2674 or visit wm.edu/boxoffice.

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