MCT’s “Shrek”: Making the mask

Behind every successful production is the prop department.

On Stage

On May 1, “Shrek the Musical,” hits the stage at the Missoula Children’s Theatre. The lovable ogre and the pretty princess and the donkey that just won’t be quiet will entertain Missoula’s children and their adults through May 17.

But Scott Reilly, the actor playing Shrek, needs a mask. The mask must have a really big nose, be form fitting, and able to broadcast his facial expressions to the audience. Maeve Ball and Lesley Washburn have been the creative team behind the building of Shrek’s mask and additional prosthetics needed for the show.

The process of making Scott’s Shrek masks involves:

1)  Creating a negative impression mold of his face using alginate, the same substance used to make dental impressions;

2)  Using UltraCal, a plaster-like compound, to make a positive impression of the alginate mold;

3)  Using clay to build up the cast to create the features of Shrek (the nose and such);

4)  Creating a negative UltraCal mold from that clay sculpture of Shrek’s face;

5)  Making a latex foam mask (another four-step process) from the negative UltraCal mold, which will be painted and used by Scott during his performance.

There will be 15-30 masks created for the run of the show, and it’s estimated that building the initial one takes about 66 hours. Each additional Shrek mask is about a five to six hour process.

The first picture is of Scott Reilly, the actor playing Shrek. The casting and preparation of his mask follows in the picture gallery. The final mask is still being created and will be ready opening night.

Wigs, ogre family noses, and other prosthetics are being created as well.

Another prop that  Washburn created is the dragon, which is as beautiful as a dragon can be and is guaranteed to not scare the children!

– Mike O’Halloran