Be afraid, be very afraid because ‘he’ is here...

By Ivy Jensen

NO PHANTOM, not Michael Crawford on Broadway, nor Lon Chaney in the 1925 big screen thriller, has been as frightening as Leigh Hindle.

The Phantom has been reinvented as the macabre, the horrifying, first described in Gaston Leroux’s book, the basis for every stage show, movie and documentary that has followed.

And his grisly visage, which will stun Echuca-Moama audiences when it is revealed, has been created by the wizardry of Julie Raverty.

The make-up queen of Echuca-Moama Theatre Company has gone into the stratosphere for this most scary of assignments.

‘‘Right from the onset, we knew we would be working with special effects to create a Phantom with a terrible facial disfigurement as a result of having acid thrown in his face,’’ she said.

As such, it has taken many months of research and experimentation, with special effects materials such as latex being used to create the burn scars.

‘‘We are pre-making most of the scars so they can then be added quickly using a skin adhesive,’’ Julie said.

It is still a time-consuming task so to reduce the number of hours Leigh will be required to sit in the chair before each show, Julie will be helped by professional beauty therapist Dianne McDonell.

‘‘Dianne works on the Phantom’s good side, using an airbrush to give the flawless finish to his character,’’ she said.

‘‘Despite his shame of his physical ugliness under his mask, the Phantom is a proud and well presented man.

‘‘I work on the Phantom’s bad side to create his disfigurement to not only look very realistic but also survive being under the mask for most of the show.’’

Stage make-up design and co-ordination, particularly for this show, is a time management challenge.

‘‘We do not have the luxury of time to create each character,’’ Julie said.

‘‘While the audience is snuggled comfortably in their seat watching the show, you can be sure that behind the scenes is a flurry of changes — costumes, wigs, hair and make-up.

‘‘We become experts at quick changes, going a little crazy with the adrenaline rush to create what appears seamless on the stage.

‘‘The cast do an amazing job helping each other to be ready on time which in turn helps the hair and make-up crew.’’

The make-up team also has Zali McKee on board who, along with Julie and Dianne, will be creating many character faces throughout the show.

Three hairdressers, working under the direction of Shelley Peterson, will also help the cast with their hair and wigs.

‘‘Some changes are so very quick but good communication and practise ensures we are ready for the challenge,’’ Julie said.

‘‘A production like The Phantom of the Opera is a mammoth undertaking for all involved and it takes a committed team to bring it to the stage and do it the justice it deserves.’’