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Alumna returns to work on ‘Fuddy Meers’

By : Eric Coker

Director Tom Kremer had a challenge with the Theatre Department’s production of Fuddy Meers: The play’s “extreme characters” required “extreme alterations of the human face.”

Enter the expertise of Marisa Wade.

But Wade is neither a student nor a professor. She is an alumna who has returned backstage to serve as the makeup designer of the dark comedy, which is scheduled for performances at 8 p.m. March 6-7, 13-14 and 2 p.m. March 15, in FA-Watters Theater.

“We would be extremely taxed to be able to pull off some of the makeup requirements without Marisa’s presence,” said Kremer, who described Wade’s return as a “godsend.”

Wade, from Whitney Point, graduated in 2006 with a degree in technical theatre. She originally took a makeup class with Barbara Wolfe, associate professor of theatre and costume designer for Fuddy Meers, and eventually became a makeup designer. Working in Theatre Department productions such as Cabaret and at the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott made Wade eager for more formal training.

“I wanted something that taught me a little bit of everything,” she said.

After graduation, Wade entered Complections International Academy of Make-up Artistry in Toronto, where she learned about prosthetics, theater makeup, hairstyling and fashion. Wolfe said she had never had a student go on to study makeup before, and both Wolfe and Kremer said it is rare for a former student to play a major off-stage role in a production.

“When she came back and started applying for internships, I said, ‘You’re going to need portfolio work. Maybe this show is for you,’” Wolfe said. “Hopefully, it’s serving us both. She’s going to come out of this with a produced show and our students are getting experience (from Wade).”

Wade, who returned from Toronto in November, is working with a crew that ranges from students who have taken makeup classes to students who are helpful and handy. Wade has stressed the simplicity of prosthetics.

“With a prosthetic piece, half the battle is getting it on correctly,” the 26-year-old said. “You can make the most beautiful piece, but if it’s not on properly it’s not going to look right. I designed the prosthetic piece simply — so it could be put on easily.”

Wade said she has enjoyed  Fuddy Meers, but admitted that the show has its tests.

“This show does have a lot of fun characters to deal with, from old age to a goth kid to a limping man with a scarred ear,” she said. “You want the audience to look at these characters and get an opinion right away. There is a lot involved in character makeup and changing the shape of somebody’s face. … And all of this is from a distance. You can have something that looks great up close, but if you step back 10 feet, the audience may not read it. So there is the challenge of making it readable to the audience from a distance.”

Wade, who said she loves the “problem-solving” of live theater, is now looking to expand her portfolio by applying for summer hair and makeup internships.

“It’s a great experience and it’s great to have on my résumé,” she said of Fuddy Meers. “I’ve never built a fake ear before! You’re always learning in this business. I’m thankful that Barb and Tom gave me this experience.”

About ‘Fuddy Meers’

Fuddy Meers is a dark comedy by David Lindsay-Abaire about a woman named Claire who learns that she suffers from a form of amnesia that erases her memory every night. Claire’s journey begins when she meets a limping, lisping man. Fuddy Meers refers to a character’s pronunciation of “funny mirrors.”

“It’s a play about the desire that every human being has — to secretly start over again,” director and theatre professor Tom Kremer said. “To start so afresh that you don’t even have a past anymore. What would it be like? Every character in the play is searching for some way to start over.”

The play stars Allie Henkel, Paul Stanton, Matthew Koenig, Matthew Van Vorst, Kerrin Hawkins, Michael John Gilbert and Rose-Emma Lunderman. Tickets are $14, general admission; $12, faculty/staff/seniors; $8, students, and can be purchased by calling 777-ARTS or by visiting

Kremer is pleased with the chemistry of the cast and crew.

“These students are not only dedicated and talented, but we’ve worked together before and developed a short-hand of speaking,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a knockout performance.”


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Last Updated: 10/14/08