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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Beast Mask

**These masks are available for purchase here**

As I mentioned on the Old Hag Mask posts, my old high school asked my to do some masks for their production of Beauty and the Beast.  Well, I'm now done with the star of the show.  I did this one as a two piece latex mask for time and budget.  The jaw is rigged to move with the actor's.

So, let's talk origins.  This design is a combination of, primarily, three or four different ideas.  The first, of course, is the Glen Keane (and team) design for the Beast in Disney's animated film.

Then comes John Dods' design for the prosthetic makeup for the Beast (and all other characters) in the Broadway production.  This is a test makeup Dods did before the production was seen by the public.

It's a series of foam latex prosthetics (with plenty of hair) designed to bring the actor's face into the proportions of the animated design.

What Dods originally envisioned was much more along the lines of the animated character, but he had to scale it back to make it more practical for the stage.  Here's a screenshot of his design from the 1994 Tony Award performance.  It's a result of, I'm sure, much more testing than just the above.  This has become the iconic Beast makeup, and was very definitely the direction the director of my little production wanted to go in.  It's still a series of prosthetic appliances and hair pieces, but, it's much more subtle.

So, how to do that for a high school... Well, the thing about prosthetics is you need a new set each night, which can really drive up the cost, and they take time and experience to apply and remove.  My Beast actor is a high school student, so I didn't want to subject him to an hour plus makeup job, the show's budget isn't huge, and I wouldn't be there to do the makeup each night, so I needed another way to get the feeling of John Dods' iconic look.  If you just make a latex mask over his face, he can't perform.  The solution began with another Broadway musical: Wicked.

Makeup designer Matthew Mungle devised a clever rubber mask for Wicked's animal characters, where just the upper portion of the face is covered.  The one on the left was the one that made it click.  Just a brow and nose, and the rest of the face is free to act.

But everyone wanted the Beast's tusks, so I turned to a design I had worked with myself.  Ralis Kahn, another makeup effects artist, came out with a line of Mad Monster Masks last year that featured a moveable jaw, hinged with elastic.  I helped paint them, and got to know the design pretty well, so I knew it would be a great way to get the Beast's tusks on there.  Here's one of Ralis' masks.  See split where the jaw is a separate piece under the main portion of the face?  Pretty cool.

So, merging all of that together (plus two sizeable synthetic wigs), I ended up with my own Beast mask design.  It's a little bit of my spin on everything else that's come before, and was pretty fun to do.

Update: here's a new video of the mask in action 6/23/2014

**These masks are available for purchase here**

"What a BEAUTIFUL job you did on the Beast Mask.   Ballet North is THRILLED with your work, and YES, he CAN dance in it.  What I particularly like is that you can also see his face, so facial expressions can be seen, instead of being hidden behind a frozen face.  So, thank you, thank you."


  1. Can I purchase this beast mask? I am doing the ballet Beauty and the Beast in June, and I need a mask that the dancer can move in
    Laura Reinschmidt
    My number is: 816-213-5623 (cell) or
    Ballet North's main number is: 816-454-4859

  2. There something you forgot to explain--how did you get the hair/wig and horns to fit together?

  3. Hi there, I have emailed you about this piece.

  4. Hi, I'm looking for a Beast mask. Can you email me at mpatrao@bccpa.ca if you have any available. Thanks so much.

  5. Would I be able to purchase the beast mask and have it by March 1st? This is for a high school musical in Pennsylvania. Let me know at koho18@hotmail.com.

  6. Hello.. Do you have information as to where to purchase the Beast mask? Please send info to lions.freak@yahoo.com Thank you

  7. Would you be willing to create this and sell it again? my email is rebekahsbrennan@gmail.com

  8. Hi there! Is this mask for sale? I work for a Princess Party company. Here is my email. projectprincessok@gmail.com