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Henry Menary

  Henry has been working as Birmingham Royal Ballet's Wig Master for around 24 years. He is responsible for sourcing, fitting, styling, caring for and storing all the wigs and hairpieces used for all BRB ballets. If that isn’t enough, he is also responsible for any body paint or false prosthetics, such as noses and chins, that ballet characters may require.

The home of the Wig Master is in the technical department at the Birmingham site but due to the nature of the role Henry has to spend a lot of time touring with the Company when they perform across the UK and abroad. So far this year he has toured to Edinburgh, London, Cardiff, Plymouth and Hong Kong to name but a few!

As a department of one, it is down to Henry to do all of the work necessary to prepare for each ballet. During large productions such as The Sleeping Beauty Henry will call upon an assistant to help fit over 90 elaborately prepared wigs and hairpieces that are used in a production of this scale.

Henry found his way into the wig making profession quite by accident. He was working as a Production Assistant in Glasgow when he saw a similar job advertised in London and applied. Only after getting the job did he realise he would be working for a wig making company, producing wigs for TV, films and West End productions.

The job gave him an insight and passion into all the different departments and stages of wig construction. Henry’s initial training was an apprenticeship; nowadays there are specific courses and training programmes available for people wanting to get into the profession.

The run-up to a production in Birmingham will involve:
• Liaising with the director and / or designer of a ballet to discuss what hair-pieces are required.
• The measuring and fitting of dancers who will be performing will then take place. All dancers have hairpieces custom made – the measurements are important and if the wigs are too large then they have the potential to fall off when dancing. If they are too tight then there is the danger of the wigs being too uncomfortable for the dancers.

Juliet's intricate hair-pieces in the ballroom scene of Romeo and Juliet

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