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What’s in an HGO Wig?

By HGO Communications

“I don’t want them to notice,” says Dotti Staker, the Wig and Makeup Department head at Houston Grand Opera.

When asked her ultimate goal for the 2,000+ wigs she’s built for HGO over the past 34 years and the wigs to come, Dotti says she’s going for a transformative illusion allowing the audience to believe the wig is native to the character, therefore making it unnoticeable.  

 

Dotti Staker, HGO Wig and Makeup Department head

Meet Dotti

In 1983, after graduating from the University of Cincinnati as a technical theater production major with wig & makeup emphasis, Dotti began as an assistant in the Wig and Makeup Department of Houston Grand Opera. Her role was to act as the liaison between a remote wig provider in San Francisco, The Theatrical Hair Goods Company, and HGO.  However, in addition to what the vendor provided, Dotti constructed her own wigs for each opera. After seven seasons, she’d built so much stock that the opera no longer needed to outsource those services and she began to man the department on her own. Since then, Dotti’s talent has been become an irreplaceable mainstay in the success of each performance.   

Top 5

We recently caught up with Dotti to ask which of her many wig constructions over the years are her top five. And, while she would rather the audience not notice, we thought this is the perfect platform to let her work shine.

  1. Anthony Dean Griffey
    Die Fledermaus
    2013

Anthony Dean Griffey’s role as Alfredo in Die Fledermaus was the first time he wore a wig in a role at HGO. Her goal was to create a curly, Italian-style wig that looked amazing onstage but also accommodated the needs of the artist.

Anthony Dean Griffey’s role as Alfredo in Die Fledermaus was the first time he wore a wig in a role at HGO. Her goal was to create a curly, Italian-style wig that looked amazing onstage but also accommodated the needs of the artist.

  1. Entire cast
    Nixon in China
    World Premiere - 1987
Entire cast Nixon in China, World Premiere, 1987The wigs for the entire cast are significant to Dotti because this was the first HGO opera for which she solely built everything.  She constructed 75 to 80 wigs for Nixon in China.

  1. Cast members with dreadlock wigs
    Outcast
    1994
Dotti built dreadlock wigs for the cast members made of upholstery welting. She noted some of the cast had real dreadlocks but, her wigs for the other cast members appeared so natural, you couldn’t tell the difference between the two.  Dotti built dreadlock wigs for the cast members made of upholstery welting. She noted some of the cast had real dreadlocks but, her wigs for the other cast members appeared so natural that you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. 

 

  1. Cast in stylized Egyptian wigs
    Aida - Rhodes Production
    2007
Dotti recalled the immense amount of work that went into these particular wigs. They were meticulously constructed with cord made of cotton and upholstery cord, for sheen.
Dotti recalled the immense amount of work that went into these particular wigs. They were meticulously constructed with cord made of cotton and upholstery cord, for sheen.

  1. Simon O’Neill
    Die Walküre
    2015  
This segment of a hair treatment worn by Simon O’Neill as Siegmund in Die Walküre (2015) was constructed by using a very detailed technique called wig ventilation. Each strand of hair is individually threaded and knotted into extremely fine netting to create the effect of a more natural hairline.This segment of a hair treatment worn by Simon O’Neill as Siegmund in Die Walküre (2015) was constructed by using a very detailed technique called wig ventilation. Each strand of hair is individually threaded and knotted into extremely fine netting to create the effect of a more natural hairline. 


See Dotti in Action

Get a first-hand look at Dotti constructing a wig and also view samples of other wig masterpieces at the upcoming Theater District Open House, Sunday, August 28, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Wortham Theater Center.  

Theater District Open House is a FREE event that will be filled with plenty of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, including performances by HGO Studio artists, costume displays, backstage tours, and a chance to hang out on the Brown Theater stage.  Also, take advantage of one-day-only special pricing on single tickets and subscriptions—offers available only at the event.

To learn more, click here. We hope to see you there!