BUILDING BROADWAY: BEAUTIFUL Wig Designer Charles G. LaPointe


(music) – Hi, my name’s Charles G. LaPointe, I’m the wig designer for
“Beautiful” Broadway. I’ve been doing this for about 25 years, and I’m very happy to be here. The Broadway bug hit
me when I was about 14 and I was in a production
of “Fiddler on the Roof.” And then, really, it
cemented when I was about 17 and was in one of the
first regional productions of “A Chorus Line.” I had come to New York, I remember that, on a high school trip. And we had seen “A Chorus Line.” And I was sitting way, way up at the top, and I just remember
thinking, “Wow, look at that. I wanna be that.” Well, you get into
Broadway hair in many ways. A lot of people go to school,
some people learn on the job. I’m one of the on-the-job
kind of guys, experience. My story is a little sordid;
I slept with my boss. We were on the road together,
started a relationship, and he traveled all the time, so I had to follow along with him, and I needed a job. And he said, “Why don’t you try it?” and that’s really, very
simply how it began. I met this costume designer
named Paul Tazewell. My parter, Tom, at the time, could not do the show
that Paul asked him to do, so Paul recommended that I do it. And Paul and I immediately became friends. It was “A Raisin in the Sun.” And I was stressed out, ’cause I had never worked with
African American hair before, so I really had to spend a lot of time, literally getting caught in the subway staring at people’s hair, to see how it grew out of their head, and trying to figure out texture. When that was successful, or I felt like I had
accomplished something, was when I really started to realize, “Oh, this is something
I think I’m actually, I found something that
I’m good at,” you know? My process for creating hair in a show, is I literally talk to
the costume designer, look at the sketches, and then kinda throw
it all out the window, and I don’t think about
it too much, I just do it. I worked with Alejo Vietti,
who’s the costume designer, also a really good friend of mine. Some of the styles for Carole
that he originally showed me, you know, we looked at Jessie
Mueller and we just thought, I’m not sure that’s gonna fly. So trying to negotiate that
stuff is really more the process than I would say sitting down
and doin’ a lot of research. I know a lot of wig people who do that. They go and read through
books and look at sketches and blah blah. I can look at three or four
looks on a living person and get the sense of what it is, and that’s where the
creative part comes in. You make what that is work on the person you’re building it for. The idea was to get the essence of it, more so than the exact person, you know, Jessie Mueller isn’t Carole King, Carole King isn’t Jessie Mueller, you’re not trying to
make them that person, but working with her to create an essence. The process really involves
just kind of blending the hair, building the cap, doing a head wrap, making sure we have their
hairline and their head form, so that when we build the wig, it fits their hairline perfectly. So the illusion is always
that it’s their hair, even though they’re wearing
multiple wigs in a show. All wigs go through eight shows a week, which is much more than wigs are generally
worn on the street. So, eight times a week, on and off, they go through hell, basically. If you have a really great team, like I do here on “Beautiful,” those wigs can last a very long time. There is not a show I do that
I do not go into it thinking, “I have no idea what the hell I’m doing,” “They’re finally gonna catch me,” and then it suddenly just comes through, in some way, it happens. There’s a moment when you
just know it’s gonna work. You put the wig on and you
kinda hear this swoosh, and it just sits exactly
where it needs to sit. I welcome input from the actors, because they do have to wear, no matter what I think, they have to wear it. They’re the ones who
put themselves out there all the time. They work with you. They want to get to the essence
of what this character is, and the hair finalizes that for them. The costumes, the hair,
that’s the topping, that’s the icing on all of it. And that’s really what I’m here for, to make you feel like a
million bucks, you know. Or to make you feel
scary, if you need to be, you know, I’m there to
finish that off for you. (music)

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