Greasepaint musings

A jar of theatrical greasepaint created by Ross (Photo: http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com)

In times past, the term “greasepaint” referred to a specific type of stage make-up. I’m told it was a lard-based improvement of sorts over lead-based make-up once worn by theater folk.

Though today’s performers have better options, the term is still used by some to harken back with nostalgia to the early days of on-stage acting. And it was the name chosen back in 1984, when a new youth theater was formed in Scottsdale.

I was a newlywed at that point, still five years away from having my first child. So I didn’t experience my first Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre performance until many years later.

I came across some old Greasepaint programs the other day, including one for an April 2000 performance of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” And another for an April 1999 performance of “Pinocchio.”

I spotted a familiar name in the “Pinocchio” cast list — Jennifer Trimble (performing the role of “Bella”). Her bio reads like this: “Jennifer is a 7-year-old 2nd grader at Desert View Learning Center. She studies dance and the piano, and is a member of the Phoenix Girls Chorus.”

The bio also notes her performance earlier that season in “Hansel and Gretel” with Greasepaint — which conjures memories of putting icing on gingerbread cookies with young cast members in the green room, spray painting angel wings with glow-in-the-dark colors, and adjusting Jennifer’s peasant blouse and cotton floral skirt.

I got to looking for other names too — like Katie Hart, Tyler Smalley and Amanda Glenn — knowing the three Greasepaint alumni will soon be joining current Greasepaint performers on stage at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center.

Sure enough, Smalley was there — along with siblings Krysten and Tanner. Back then, Tyler was a 12-year-old home-schooling 7th grader studying dance. He was already represented by the Ford/Robert Black Agency and had several Valley Youth Theatre and Greasepaint shows among his list of credits.

Tubes of greasepaint make-up from Max Factor (Photo: http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com)

There are plenty of reasons to attend the April 16 “Greasepaint for Tomorrow” event taking place this Saturday night at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Catching up with young adults who’ve acted with Greasepaint in years past should be especially fun.

“Greasepaint for Tomorrow” — scheduled from 6pm to 10 pm — features a reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres, a live performance titled “Broadway Heroes & Villains” directed by Kelli James, a silent auction and more.

“Broadway Heroes & Villains” includes selections from diverse musicals including “13,” “Billy Elliot,” “Hairspray,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Les Miserables,” “Mamma Mia,” “Spring Awakening,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Wicked.”

Producing director Maureen Dias-Watson, who heads the theater company now known as Greasepaint Youtheatre, promises more than 70 items for silent auction shoppers — including trips, gift certificates, theater tickets and more.

Think Fleming’s and Neiman Marcus. Sailing and skiing. Athlete and rock star memorabilia. Jewelry and art. Clever Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shoppers take note — because silent auctions present opportunities to snag good deals on unique fare. (The time for finding year-end teacher gifts is fast approaching too.)

You can learn more about Saturday’s “Greasepaint Youtheatre” fundraiser by visiting www.greasepaint.org — where you’ll also find information on their next show, an upcoming master class and summer theater camps for kids.

Folks who attend “Greasepaint for Tomorrow” will want to hang on to their programs — because you never know when the children and teens performing today on local stages might be listed down the road in programs from Broadway to London’s West End and beyond.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the history and uses of greasepaint, as well as other forms of cosmetics, visit www.cosmeticsandskin.com. The above photos are just a few of those featured on this website.

Coming up: “Jersey” girls, Pinky’s picks

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