Student Brings Advanced Makeup Skills to SHSU Theatre

Jennifer Sullivan has worked on numerous theatrical programs throughout her undergraduate career at Sam Houston State University.  Her passion for makeup and costuming has become her life’s work, and her advanced techniques are showcased in the SHSU department of theatre and musical theatre’s production of “Machinal.”

Sullivan, a senior theatre major with a concentration in costume and makeup, was selected to head the makeup design for the department’s first production of the semester.  She is one of the first to use the advanced makeup technique of airbrushing in an SHSU production.

“As far as I know, we haven’t airbrushed here before,” Sullivan said. “I have done [airbrushing] before on jobs I’ve had in the past.  I’m in an advanced prosthetics class that is like an independent study class and we’re doing airbrushing techniques.”

Sullivan said that she has learned how to manage working on multiple actors who all need slightly different makeup applications.

“We have 14 people backstage that we’re doing,” Sullivan said. “A lot of the process has been figuring out who needs to come in when, who needs to get what done. It’s a lot of figuring out the organization of the actors and who who goes when.”

Sullivan said she also learned how to adjust makeup designs to fit a larger stage versus a smaller stage.  She said that larger stages require more drastic makeup design because the eye naturally blends details together.

Sullivan, along with a team of artists, creates the gray scale look the all the actors except for the main character wear.  Sullivan said the style is a blend of the 1920’s and a “film noir,” which helps promote the storytelling through the protagonists mind.

“The whole show is based in [the main character’s] perspective, so you see her point of view,” Sullivan said. “Everybody else around her is in blacks and whites and she is the only one in color since you are focusing on her.”

While Sullivan enjoys acting, she has found a passion in doing technical work behind the scenes and even worked on two shows simultaneously last semester.

“The end of last year I worked on ‘Shrek the Musical’ while we were doing ‘Hair,’” she said.  “I went down to [Corpus Christi] every weekend while still doing work here.  That’s where I got my main airbrushing experience, while being Shrek’s makeup artist.”

Sullivan has worked on several other productions at SHSU, including “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Dog Sees God,” “Lucy” and “Hair.”

Sullivan’s work can be seen at any showing of “Machinal” which runs today through Oct. 11 in the Erica Starr Theatre.

For tickets, visit or call 936-294-1339.

Leave a Reply