Last year, there were 54 wigs featured in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s “A Christmas Carol.” The show is only 90 minutes long.
“So you’ll have to think about how many times people are changing their hair,” said Costume Director Mike Floyd.
It’s a lot. Which is why the annual production’s hair design is actually two full time jobs.
“I have a wig supervisor and a wig assistant,” Floyd said. “And the two of them are in charge of realizing all the wigs and facial hair and hair needs.”
Floyd sits in the costume workroom at a short yellow table. In the middle is an unintentional centerpiece of soy sauce and sriracha bottles (“It’s our lunch table, too,” he said, laughing) and binders labeled “Christmas Carol” which are filled with tartan-patterned fabric swatches and sketches.
Floyd opens one of those binders.
“This is the Bible of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and this is what helps us sort of remount it year-to-year,” he said.
There are sketches of costumes for the annual production; sketches of the 31 actors in the production and sketches of hair.
The costume department has been working on styling for this year’s production since September, including building custom hair pieces and teaching actors how to work with their own hair, as well.
“They will work with actors on how to style their own hair to make it look period appropriate,” Floyd said. “We spent a lot of time building mustaches and mutton-chops and sideburns, in case a man needs to change his looks throughout the periods. So, it’s a full-service costume department here.”
In this version of Actors Theatre’s Christmas Carol, which had a pretty drastic stylistic overhaul in 2014, the costume department has focused on making sure the entire looks they create are period-appropriate. Which is harder than it sounds because the show covers a lot of time: over 60 years of past, present and future style on-stage.
And it’s not just the clothing that changes through that time.
“One of the apprentices has the most facial hair and hair needs,” Floyd said. “The male acting apprentices are the ones constantly changing clothes, which means they are constantly changing hair. The hair in 1780 was very different than the hair in 1837.”