Into the Woods costumes include custom masks

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Through extensive costuming, hair design and makeup, characters come to life. One alternative to makeup, though, is the creation of masks.
In Into the Woods, The Witch and two wolves – played by junior Emily Barnash and seniors Mikey Padilla and Alex Muetzel, respectively – are in masks instead of heavy stage makeup, creating a strong and unique look for the characters. The masks were created by senior Claire Wilkinson and the costume shop.
“Masks are commonly used in this musical, but it was my idea that we try making them,” Wilkinson said. The Witch’s mask is made to look like an elderly, decaying women and the wolves’ masks bring out intricate animalistic qualities.
Each mask took six to eight hours to make from start to finish. To do so, plaster bandages are placed over the actors’ faces, making a mold similar to a “homemade piñata.” When the layers dry, they are taken off the actors and plaster is poured into the custom mold and left to dry and harden. The strips are peeled off once again and the masks are sanded smooth.
“Once this process is complete, I mold what the mask will look like with clay on their face and then go through various processes to cover the mask mold with liquid latex,” Wilkinson said. “Then the masks are painted or makeup is applied, and the person can wear their custom mask.”
Masks aren’t created often at DePauw due to manpower and lack of expertise, however, Wilkinson was able to spend her summer studying costume design and perfect the skill.
“Because of my research grant to design and work on costumes this summer, I was able to travel to Wabash College and meet with their costume designer who has a good amount of experience in this,” Wilkinson said. She has spent her time in Into the Woods creating the masks and working on more intricate costumes as well as assisting the other people who work in the costume shop.
Wilkinson hopes the masks assist in bring the characters and the musical to life, even with the added difficulties they bring.
“Of course it will feel a little strange for [the actors], but the masks will not interfere with their sight, breathing or singing,” she said. “However, because The Witch’s mask covers a great deal of her face, she has to compensate and use her body to help her communicate with the audience.”