The History of MAC Cosmetics and Broadway
Before curtain call, before curtain up, and before casting, theater starts with a writer and the blank page. And as the saying goes, from there, it takes a village. It’s easy to name the main players that help bring theater to life– playwrights, actors, directors, stage managers– but the work that goes into a show (and the storytelling) extends far beyond the boundaries of a rehearsal room.
The look of every show for example: from set to costumes and makeup to poster design, every aesthetic choice has a critical impact on the way we experience the story.
Take the work of 2018 DGF Gala honoree John Demsey: John Demsey is Estée Lauder Companies’ Executive Group President. He also serves as M·A·C Cosmetics Brand President and as Chairman of the M·A·C AIDS Fund, fostering relationships between the M·A·C Cosmetics artist relations team and the Broadway community.
He has partnered with a variety of productions, integrating MAC Cosmetics into such favorites as Angels in America, Follies, Into the Woods, Jekyll & Hyde, Anastasia, SpongeBob SquarePants. And, oh yeah…Wicked!
That’s right, Elphaba’s signature green is none other than MAC PRO Chromacake Landscape Green. And yes, there is a MAC template online for how to get your own green Elphia glow.
MAC is the official makeup sponsor for Wicked (and many other productions), so ponder just for a moment the reach MAC has had since Wicked opened in 2003. 15 years, two national tours, at least a dozen Elphabas, productions in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and more! Talk about brand awareness!
And that’s where the business of show really takes the spotlight. Creativity and artistry come in many forms. Said Demsey of his own career to the Wall Street Journal, “I’m perceived as a suit to creatives and a creative to suits.” But that’s where the beauty of his business resides. Of his industry, Demsey shared, “The beauty business is the ultimate mash-up of science, dream-making, storytelling, and creativity.” What’s more, MAC Cosmetics brands itself as makeup for all races. All ages. All genders. That sounds an awful lot like the theater community to us! It’s no wonder that MAC has helped designers create some of the most recognized characters in theater history.
MAC is celebrated for being one of the few brands that markets to male-identifying consumers and thus has solidified its place of honor in a multitude of LGBTQ+ -inclusive productions and communities.
Elphaba’s green aside, think of Hedwig’s iconic blue eye shadow in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. MAC. Les Cagelles in La Cage aux Folles? MAC. The devastating reality and fantasy elements of Angels in America? That’s right, MAC. How about a makeup that can satisfy the multitude of needs for a diverse cast like Kinky Boots? You guessed it!
The practice of inclusion is likely what has given MAC its longevity and loyalty from the Broadway community. That’s without mentioning, of course, the dedicated efforts of the MAC AIDS Fund.
Since MAC founders Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan created the fund in 1994, it has raised more than $480 million. The MAC website proudly declares that 100% of the purchase price of VIVA Glam lipstick goes towards the MAC AIDS Fund and the fight against HIV/AIDS. They have become the largest corporate, non-pharmaceutical giver to the cause.
Unsurprisingly, there’s an even more expanded relationship between these makeup artists and theater artists through the joint efforts of the MAC AIDS Fund and Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. MAC AIDS Fund sponsors the now legendary Broadway Bares burlesque fundraiser for BC/EFA.
This support, community-building, and commitment to artistry of all kinds is what makes the relationship between MAC and Broadway so powerful. It’s collaboration, inspiration, and celebration. And it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It certainly does “take a village,” and we believe that enough of these towns can change the world.
Join us on November 12th for the 2018 DGF Gala honoring John Demsey, Faith Hope Consolo, and Sheldon Harnick. For tickets and more information, click here.