Art school alum creates elaborate ‘Shrek’ costume

Photo courtesy MGN
Photo courtesy MGN

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — Richmond Civic Theatre is gearing up for its 500th production, one of its most ambitious ever.

“Shrek the Musical” will have 43 cast members playing 83 roles, director Kathy Clopper said.

Clopper was on hand Saturday to watch volunteer Chad Eversole create a life-sized cast of the head and shoulders of Ryan Shaw, who will play Shrek in the play based on the first movie in the Disney series.

The cast will be used to create part of Shaw’s costume, a latex head covering that will turn Shaw into an ogre.

Eversole, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, will build the head, along with various noses and other facial parts, for pigs, mice, bears, a witch and a few more ogres.

To make the life cast, Eversole uses alginate, a seaweed product that creates a layer of slime over the model. He then uses gauze strips — the same as those used to make casts for broken bones — to cover the face.

When that hardens, he cuts it into two pieces to remove it from the model’s head, peeling away the alginate.

Cement will go into the cast, resulting in a bust of Shaw’s head, upon which Eversole can add the elements essential to an ogre.

Shaw acknowledged having a few nerves before Eversole began his work.

“It’s a little scary, actually,” he told the Palladium-Item.

Eversole talked to Shaw throughout the process, explaining what he was doing and calming the actor.

“I’ll try to make it as painless as possible, but I know it’s weird,” Eversole said, his voice dropping to a whisper.

Eversole started working near Shaw’s nostrils, the only part of his face uncovered.

“You can still breathe,” he said. “If you feel like you’re getting anything in there, just snort it out.”

Shaw couldn’t do much more than hum, enough to allow him to reassure Eversole, Clopper and Kayla Chamness, in charge of makeup and hair for the production.

Clopper and Chamness said they hadn’t been sure of how they were going to create a convincing Shrek before Eversole volunteered.

Eversole, who grew up in Centerville and works at Vandor Corp., had been looking for a way to practice the skills he learned at art school.

When he heard about “Shrek the Musical,” he decided it was a perfect opportunity.

“It’s probably one of the most challenging shows the theater has ever taken on,” Clopper said.

Elaborate collaboration is required among the teams handling costumes, props, makeup and special effects.

“Which makes it a really cool show,” Chamness said.

It also makes it expensive, Clopper acknowledged. But the life cast didn’t add too much cost. Eversole said the alginate cost about $20.

When after about 45 minutes Shaw was released from the cast, he was visibly relieved.

“It was interesting,” he said. “The creepiest part was when I first got (the alginate) put on, because it was so cold. … Once I got over the cold part, it was kind of relaxing.”

Still, it was odd having only his nostrils free — especially when Eversole was adding gauze near his nose.

“I kept telling myself, ‘Breathe. He knows what he’s doing,'” Shaw said.

“The things I do for theater.”

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Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

 

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