With any show, the make-up designer creates the look for every character. But when it comes to the wacky, irreverent Beetlejuice The Musical, make-up designer Joe Dulude II (Wicked, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert) welcomed the chance to push his creativity into the realm of the supernatural and zany.
Dulude took cues from original film director Tim Burton’s drawings, which heavily feature jagged lines and his signature spiral motif; Dulude’s design emphasizes contour to accentuate the angles of his actors’ faces and jawlines, to make their eyes pop. “It always came back to Burton,” Dulude says. “If you look at his drawings, like with the spirals around the eyes, I wanted to replicate that hollowness.”
But contrary to Burton’s drawings, Dulude created an explosive world of color—using blues and greens and purples to create undead creatures, white and gray to emphasize dust and ashes of the afterlife, vibrant reds for passion, and golds to highlight the mystical.
Dulude designed approximately 60 individual make-up plots to cover the full company of the Broadway stage adaptation of the beloved movie. But Dulude’s work was not done with simply choosing palettes and patterns. With official make-up partner Pat McGrath Labs, Dulude had to ensure the feasibility of each individual make-up track. If an actor has less than five minutes to change characters, how can they swap costumes, wigs, and faces? A master of the craft, Dulude created the answer.
Here, we interviewed and photographed four Beetlejuice actors (who play 12 characters) in order to chronicle their changing faces throughout the course of a single performance:
WILL BLUM, BEETLEJUICE (STANDBY)
Surprisingly, Beetlejuice is the character whose make-up changes the least throughout the show. But it is quite the transformation from fresh face to undead demon. A white foundation zaps the life out of him quickly, then Dulude powders dark circles around the full eye. Beetlejuice begins with green undertones, as if freshly out of the ground. This also matches William Ivey Long’s costumes and Charles LaPointe’s wig. Dulude creates an aura of decay by painting drips of teal brain goo at the hairline and around the ears. Then, he paints green highlights into the natural beard.
Throughout the course of the show, Beetlejuice’s highlights morph from green to purple to red. “It was really an idea of William Ivey Long’s,” says Dulude. When Beetlejuice feels “Invisible,” while sitting “On the Roofe,” he fades to the purple of the sunset—in costume, wig, and make-up. He’s losing hope that Lydia will ever say his name those three magical times. But later, in the wedding scene, his spirit gains power and burns with a passionate red.
RAMONE OWENS, ENSEMBLE
As an ensemblist, Ramone Owens transforms from human mourner to cheerleader to supernatural goblin to Beetlejuice clone to Netherworld corpse. His face changes base color four times, so he removes his full face of make-up in between each make-up/costume change. “Thank God for cold cream and B3 facial oils,” he says.
During the “Prologue,” he and the rest of the ensemble appear as mourners at the funeral of Lydia’s mother. True to Burton’s aesthetic, Dulude goes for an inky black look. Heavy eyeliner, harsh contouring to create stark angles on Owens’ cheekbones, highly defined black eyebrows, and smokey eyeliner welcome audiences to a show about death. Owens layers his “cheerleader” make-up over the mourner, essentially more definition. He then has only seven minutes to make a full transformation to a green goblin—latex ears and all. Dulude’s design calls for a green powder base—better for quick changes. Dressers backstage help Owens attach the ears and slap the green on his full face, neck, and elongated ears. Owens redefines his eyebrows, adds a red inner eye for “a demonic tone,” contours his cheekbones (to replace depth and dimension that the green base softened), darkens the lip, and adds gold powder alien dots for texture.
Next, Owens comes alive as an undead clone of Beetlejuice himself. Dulude referred to the Beetlejuice make-up plot here, which includes white eyeshadow and a purple corner shadow to mimic Beetlejuice’s changing mood. Paint on drips of green brain goo, add green highlights in the beard and voila! Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice! Owens’ final look is a character he’s named Reginald, his Netherworld character. Populated with a dozen dead spirits, Reginald’s wife caught him cheating and took a hatchet to his head. “I like to say she’s on 49th Street doing Chicago,” Owens jokes. Dulude chose a pale blue, a water-based foundation that sits on top of the skin first sponged on and then brushed to smooth out the texture, to create a cold dead corpse tone. He creates dark circles around the entire eye for a hollow look, customary of Burton’s drawings. By redefining the eyebrows, the dark circles punctuate. Reginald gets a highlight of red at the inner eye and underneath the lower lashline. This time, contours are made with purple powder to match the cool tones of his make-up and create a bruised look. A purple lip completes the lifeless look.
JILL ABRAMOVITZ, ENSEMBLE/MAXINE DEAN/JUNO
Kicking off at the funeral in the “Prologue” and “The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing,” Abramovitz blends into the crowd of mourners. She paints on a severe stroke of liquid liner on her top lashline accompanied by spider-long fake lashes. A purple lip liner accentuates the magenta lip. Though the opening scene is a scene of gloom, Abramovitz’s make-up is actually brighter than you might think with the white eyeshadow emanating a spooky glow when hit by Kenneth Posner’s lighting.
The next time Abramovitz appears, she’s barely recognizable as Maxine Dean. To create the look of the overly zealous plastic surgery aficionado, Maxine wears navy blue eyeshadow on her lids and ombres upwards to lighter blue towards her uneven brows, drawn on using liquid liner based plus eyebrow pencil for texture. The ombre eyeshadow extends over Abramovitz’s actual brows to meet her fake ones. Add some liquid liner—and she’s still wearing those fabulous lashes. But the key to Maxine are those overplumped lips. No, they’re not prosthetic. The collagenated look is entirely thanks to Dulude’s careful elongated bow shape (which extends past the actor’s actual lips and onto her skin), wild color, and Abramovitz’s stretched facial expressions. Despite her plastic look, Abramovitz believes Maxine is actually a kind and warm heart—just trying her best.
Next she's the Deitz’s neighbor. “She’s Doris, in my head. That name just feels so right,” says Abramovitz of the backstory she’s chosen for her character in “That Beautiful Sound.” Stuck in the ’80s, Doris sports bold blue shadow, misplaced pink rouge, and a vibrant red lip.
Abramovitz’s final look is for Juno, head of the Netherworld. Dulude wanted Juno as dusty and decaying as possible. Dulude begins with a white base, a wax-based make-up that settles a bit more into the skin. Pro tip: With make-up like this, start by sponging it on and then go over it with a brush to eliminate streaks. A layer of powder sets the base. Dulude covers the actor’s eyebrows with the white base so that he can start from scratch in creating the exaggerated brows. (Juno's blue eyeshadow actually goes over Abramovitz’s real eyebrows, previously primed in white.) Abramovitz’s track centers around her different lip lines. For Juno, Dulude creates harsh triangles, like mountains, for her upper lip to conjure a permanent sourpuss. “I love my track,” says Abramovitz, who does all of her own make-up for each show. “It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had.”
LESLIE KRITZER, DELIA/MISS ARGENTINA
In contrast to the parade of undead characters in Beetlejuice, Delia’s make-up is remarkably simple. Her dewy, spring look accentuates the life coach’s optimism. The eyeliner and winged fake lashes widen her eyes and the pink lip gives Delia a freshness. Dulude chose shades of pink and purple for Delia’s eyeshadow, which also complement the purple tones scenic designer David Korins gave the house when the Deitzes move in.
When Delia dresses up for the visit from Max and Maxine Dean, Dulude embellishes the purple eyeshadow to be a bit more glam and chose to add a purple lip line, but only to the middle of her lips. “It’s like she thinks it’s trendy, when actually she’s just missing the mark,” Dulude explains. “But it’s endearing—how much she tries and how wrong she is.” The most remarkable change is the four-minute whirlwind from Delia to the Netherworld’s Miss Argentina. She wears her Miss Argentina costume underneath her Delia dress so she can shed layers, but the same does not go for make-up. Powder is Dulude’s secret for all of these quick changes, and the blue-green shimmer slathers on for full coverage. But, whenever you add color, you need to add contour and eyebrow definition. Last step: a juicy red lip.
Go behind 6 more famous Broadway make-up transformations with Joe Dulude II in the video below!