Early in the process for the Christmas Revels, everyone in the cast gets the word: No cutting your hair until after the show. That means men, too, although it’s possible to get special permission if you just can’t live with the big hair look. Some people end up with wigs. But, the rest of the year, your hair is your own.
That’s why I got a haircut 10 days before the Washington Revels Heritage Voices show at Ford’s Theatre last month. It had vaguely crossed my mind that my long hair might be an asset to a Civil War-era show, but, well, an opportunity arose and I put my hair in the hands of a very talented young lady at a salon on U Street. My hair, which used to reach well past the middle of my back, is now just below my chin.
The day of the next rehearsal, it occurred to me that I should e-mail Kate McGhee, the costume designer for the gig, to let her know. I am told that quite a wail emanated from Kate’s office when she read the message. Oops. Sorry, Kate.
Fortunately, with the help of bobby pins, some fake hair, and a snood, I looked perfectly presentable onstage, although probably not as awesome as I would have looked in the 19th-century hairdo Kate had planned for me.
Most of us get to walk around on stage with our own hair showing, but if your hair is too short or too pink, you have to wear a wig. Yesterday Jane Bloodworth, alto section leader and all-around awesome person, was kind enough to let me take pictures of having her wig put on with the help of volunteer Barbara Brodie.
Jane’s hair is pinned down in the back, but nice and floofy in front. That’s because the front of her hair will be combed over the front of the wig to make it look more natural.
When we do the show over and over, first in practice, then in performance, we start to notice who we run into as we move around the stage during the show. There are some people I never see – I have exactly one chance to stop and chat with my friend Autumn Wilson, and a moment near the beginning where I say hi to Will Wurzel. Otherwise I hardly see either of them. But there are at least three points in the show where I look behind me and see Jane. I like knowing that, at any point, this smiling face could appear behind me.
Doesn’t her wig look great? I’m always happy to see this face behind me. (I feel lucky to hear her voice behind me, too – Jane’s a great singer.)