From Phantom to Fagin - Hugh Panaro is the Man of 1,000 faces

A short interview from the Walnut Street Theatre

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 other people.
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 1985
*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.

Back to Articles & Interviews