Show business is a risky one: all your investments in term of money, time and manpower (to make the set, make ready the props, to stitch the costumes, etc) will be for naught if something significant goes wrong at the day of the show/production. Let’s imagine the worse and say that the disaster comes in the form of a bad makeup job? What are you going to do when you realize that the good for nothing cheap artist you hired last moment for the show (because someone in charge of that has overlooked the matter until the last moment) has either misrepresented the roles, or over done the makeup, or has done something completely different against your clear instructions?
Can firing him/her solve the real issue? You need to put everything in perspective here: regardless of the nature of the show (public theatre, musical theatre, dinner theatre, high end corporate entertainment, etc) you should be in control of the situation. An audience cannot be expected to take these little mistakes and misfortunes for granted and dismiss them. They are most of the time keen observers and adequate ‘noticers’. You absolutely cannot expect them to make your misgivings and mistakes their problem; they have come to witness a performance worthy of the money they have spent on it. It is your duty to make sure that they get what they deserve out of it. Therefore little simple things such as above cannot be something that is overlooked no matter how preoccupied you are in terms of other major details.
Let the professionals work their magic
It is inadvisable to let an amateur takeover the makeup department if you think that he/she is totally inadequate for the task. All your hard work and money you have fed into it will go up in cinders, if the performers come in looking like zombies or tarts. Get the right theatrical makeup artist. We don’t mean a recent graduate from a performing arts university, but an individual who has been properly trained in the trade and who has enough experience to back that training.
The role of the stage makeup artist will differ depending on the nature of the show. For an example more audience-intimate kind of close up theatre will not require the actors to be covered in foundation, rouge, etc, too much. In fact it would be distracting otherwise.
However, a musical production in a big public theatre fashioned with balconies and galleries will put distance between the performer and audience. It is important therefore that the actors’ faces and the expressions that animate their faces be clearly seen and identified by the audience. This requires a different touch altogether. Don’t mix up a stage makeup with screen makeup and screw up everything for yourself. Get the right one for the job.