SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — There’s no ‘letting go’ of hometown roots for this Siouxland woman. She’s in charge of making iconic Disney characters come to life on stage each night.
“I actually graduated from high school in Homer, Nebraska, and went to elementary through junior high in Walthill,” Suzanne Storey. So I’m a Nebraska girl who moved to Texas with my grandparents, went to cosmetology school, worked at a very high-end salon for 10 years, and just was ready for a change.”
That change took Suzanne from the Cornhusker State to California where she interned at the Los Angeles Opera.
“My first Broadway show was ‘The Producers’ in LA with Jason Alexander and Martin Short. Nine months later, I got offered the job to go on tour. So, I’ve just been touring ever since. I take breaks and I go work a show on Broadway for a little while, and then I go back out on tour.”
Her current tour, Frozen, involves Suzanne overseeing roughly 100 wigs and dozens of actors makeup and hair. Each of those wigs, costing as much as your average ATV.
“These wigs cost about $6,000 a piece, so we take very good care of them. They are washed, conditioned, styled just like we would do your own hair. It’s just pinned on a human rather than coming out of the human scalp,” Storey said.
And speaking of the human scalp, the reason the wigs look so realistic, is because of the painstakingly precise and thorough process the artists like Storey go through.
“When the actress is hired, the wig designer gets with the actress and they do a wig-prep, which is a pin-curl prep. They put the hairnet and wig cap on, and the designer takes a cap shape,” Storey said. “So the cap-shape is under here. There’s a hairline that’s drawn in here. So then that is taken off the actor’s head and sent away or done in-house, it really just depends on the wig designer, and the wig is handmade for that actor.”
“So as you can see right here. You can see the lace … it’s so translucent because it just blends into the actor’s scalp,” Storey said “It’s very time-consuming.”
She added that she used to make wigs, working eight hours a day and taking about a week to make one wig.
So what does an average day look like for a hair and makeup supervisor of a massive Disney production? Storey said that she usually arrives hours before shows.
“We’re backstage. We’re restyling the wigs, unblocking the wigs, taking the pins out, and delivering them to the actors’ dressing rooms. That’s for the principal actors, that’s Anna and Elsa.”
Elsa’s hair is Storey’s speciality, saying she maintains the wigs every day.
“She has four wigs. So after this week, she goes into this, when she’s Queen Anointed… her coronation wig,” Storey said. “And then you know, we go into this ‘Let it Go’ wig. This is her big, iconic braid hanging down wig. And then we go into her ‘glam’ wig… I haven’t added all the crystals yet, but all these crystals are woven through this fishtail braid.”
Along for the ride is Miss Molly Sue, Suzanne’s travel companion of 12 years. The two stop at beaches whenever they can, picking up souvenirs along the way.
“(Molly Sue)’s got her little bows. We collect these bows as we drive across the country in different cities,” she said.
Even with all the traveling, Storey doesn’t forget her roots.
“I have a home in Texas, and I have tons of friends and family in the Nebraska-Iowa area. So Nebraska and Texas are kind of both of my homes. I really enjoy coming back to Nebraska,” she said. “I love being able to offer great seats for my friends and family and I have tons of nieces and nephews in the area, and they love to come see the shows. And I can’t wait to see their faces after they see Frozen because it’s a kids’ show but it’s also an adult show.”
Storey said she feels blessed, being able to follow her passion.
If you’d like to see the show, you still have time. It runs through Sunday, April 30 in Omaha. For more information, click here.