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Professional makeup artist with Pensacola ties creates look for Shrek the Musical

Photo source: Channel 3's Kathryn Daniel

"Shrek, The Musical" is being staged at the Pensacola Little Theater in Downtown Pensacola through August 21st. With a cast of more than 30 actors, dancers and singers, it's a huge undertaking for a community theater ensemble.

Two P.L.T. alums, Gavin Parmley and Lia Forestner are in town to help make the show a huge success. Parmley, a New York City based professional actor, plays the title character, "Shrek". Forestner, a professional makeup artist from Universal Studios in Orlando, is doing his makeup, along with overseeing the makeup and prosthetics for the large company.

The two are close friends and have worked on dozens of previous P.L.T. productions together, "We grew up in the theater together," Forestner grinned.

"When I learned Gavin was cast as 'Shrek', I was so excited," Forestner declared. For months, Lia's been making 'Shrek's' prosthetics out of latex, and preparing her techniques for his very specific look.

Forestner began at P.L.T. as an actress, but her focus shifted to makeup when a directing mentor noticed her talent for application. Her mentor put her into contact with a professional makeup artist at Universal Studios.

Forestner reached out to the gentleman for feedback and advice when she was just seventeen years old. "Two weeks later, I was down in Orlando," she smiled.

Forestner worked an unpaid intern for quite a while, switching later to an apprenticeship. Today, she's an established special effects artist at Universal Studios. Forestner's done makeup for high fashion photo shoots, runway shows, several independent movies and has worked overseas on "Halloween Horror" nights.

Parmley and Forestner have collaborated on every aspect of "Shrek's" appearance. When asked about how vital stage makeup is to an actor, Parmley said, "It has to be a second skin." If it's not, it can become a limiting distraction to the thespian and the audience.

The pair have worked hard to make sure "Shrek"s look is authentic, but not so cumbersome it affects Parmley's performance. He said Forestner attends each rehearsal and show, watching from the wings for potential problems, ready to make adjustments and touch-ups as needed. "She'd be like, 'Okay, how does this feel? Are you okay?' And we're checking in on each other during the entire run of the show," he said.

"Shrek, The Musical" may be the biggest production that P.L.T.'S ever staged. It's a huge, grand display that's taken a giant collective effort by many pros and volunteers alike.

The musical features more than a hundred costumes, at least 50 wigs and a costume crew of 20 people. There are dozens of other behind-the-scenes players, among them, several aspiring young makeup artists.

Forestner is training them, spending hours showing them how to duplicate her hard earned techniques. She said passing on her skills, as many were shown to her by generous pros, is an important part of her work.

Even as she teaches and instructs, Forestner said she's still striving to push herself with the creative medium of makeup. "I constantly learn things everyday so I see no matter what I do, I'll always be learning and growing," she shared.

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