From Phantom to Fagin - Hugh Panaro is the Man
of 1,000 faces
A short interview from the Walnut Street
You saw him age before your very eyes from a spry young man to regal man of
faith in the Walnut's production of Les MisÚrables. You may have even
seen him on Broadway sporting vampire fangs as
Lestat or wearing a mysterious mask as the Phantom. Underneath all that spirit
gum and putty, there's a handsome young man. But have you ever wondered how an
actor transforms their face for a
role? So have we! We sat down and decided to ask Hugh how he physically
creates the role of Fagin in Oliver!
Q: Do you do your makeup yourself?
Hugh: Yes, I do it myself. It's a great way to get into character. It's my
time to transform. When I played the Phantom, I had someone do my makeup for me.
Q: How long does it take to get all of your makeup on?
Hugh: It probably takes about 45 minutes. First, I apply my prosthetic nose
with Prozaid, a type of spirit gum. Then I use makeup for shading. Next I use a
wig which makes me look bald in front, followed by the unkempt eyebrows. Then I
glue on my beard and mustache. Finally, I apply makeup to my teeth, black and
nicotine stain colored.
Q: How much practice does it take to get it right?
Hugh: I've been doing this since I was 12. I'm not formally trained in makeup,
but I've always been artistic. You learn as you go and you learn from watching
Q: Which is more demanding, Jean Valjean or Fagin?
Hugh: Fagin is easier. When I played Jean Valjean, I had to keep changing my
makeup, from starting as a dirty prisoner to a new face as the Mayor. I also
had to keep aging myself. With Fagin, my face stays put.
Did you know...
*Hugh Panaro is a Philadelphia native and he graduated from Temple University in
*Hugh graduated from La Salle College High School in 1982 but was never cast in
a school musical.
*He also played the Artful Dodger years ago in a production of Oliver! at the
Huntingdon Valley Dinner Theatre.
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