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The Magic of Making Theatrical Hair

By Judy Newell, photo by Lou Barranti

Wikipedia defines a hairdresser as a person who cuts or styles hair in order to change or maintain a person’s image. When the hairdresser is charged with creating theatrical characters through the use of hairstyles and wigs, the challenge is even greater. Daniel Zamora and Angel Rosales are the owners of Estudio Calavera, a new beauty salon that opened two months ago on Zacateros 17. They moved here from Mexico City to find a relaxing place to open their own salon. One of their first challenges in San Miguel was to work with director D. Michael Dobbin at the San Miguel Playhouse to create the look of the six characters in Steel Magnolias.

“I read the script and built a wig plot to develop the characters in the play,” Daniel said. “Doing the play was a fun experience. It was like actually being in a salon because every actress had different issues and concerns, and the hair styles were very important to building their character.”

The play takes place in a small town beauty shop. Daniel and Angel taught Kate Rowland (who played Truvy, the owner of the salon) and Anne Campbell (who played her assistant, Annelle) how to realistically roll up, style, and cut hair. Using wigs, the techniques were different from working with human hair. The hairstyles were also unique to the 1980s. “In the South at that time hair was really, really big,” Daniel observed. “Today it’s more demure, simple, and natural, but then big and complicated styles were popular.”

In the first act, Shelby (played by Erica Piedfort) is a bride being done up for her wedding day. “In every culture, every year and at every age, women invest a lot of time and money in getting their hair done for a wedding,” Daniel said. He instructed Kate on how to take a wig of long hair and build an elaborate up-do hairstyle, while acting her role and moving about as if this was a normal activity. “Honey, this hairdo is going to be in the hairdo hall of fame,” she tells Shelby.

“We felt very related to the show,” Daniel said. “We recognized some of our customers from over the years in those characters in the play and how we developed a very close relationship with them. Every customer has a different story and a different personality. When we work, we’re not just doing a job; it’s really a form of therapy. People loosen up and share their problems and concerns in a hair salon. We want the whole environment in our salon to be relaxing and calm, where you can enjoy being spoiled. We want our customers to leave satisfied. If you don’t feel that your color is just right, we’ll do it over for you again before you leave. Our main goal is to keep our customers happy.”

Estudio Calavera is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11am to 8pm. It’s located at Zacateros 17, local 2, in the same arcade as the Oso Azul coffee shop. The phone number is 416 152-3939.


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