Honesty Time

Keeping it real since 2013

How to Quick Change a Tin Man

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Wizard of Oz finished yesterday, after 5 weekends of either 3 or 4 shows.

It was a massive show to costume, but the artist director and I did it all and it was a very good looking show.

My biggest task every day was changing one of the Kansas characters into the Tin Man, and then at the end of the show, back into a farmhand.

Getting him made up to be the Tin Man was not so difficult. The whole process probably took 15-20 minutes, if even. I never really had the time to look at the clock and figure it out. But he was always down in the green room during the twister, and would be dressed and made up by the beginning of the Scarecrow’s song, sometimes even before the Munchkins got back downstairs from their scene. Not bad, for those of you who know the show/movie well.

Taking him apart at the end?




Remove the Tin Man get up, put on farmer clothes, and remove makeup. This was done in less than 2 minutes. I think we may have gotten it down to 1 min 30 seconds.

I’m looking at the pictures I took last night of the change. As he starts to walk offstage for his change, it was 4:38pm.

By time he was already on stage and I had organized most of the pieces of Tin Man carnage, it was 4:41pm. So that’s 3 minutes for him to walk offstage, get everything changed – including shoes – have a second to prep before his entrance, and time for me clean up the wings (backstage). That’s pretty boss.

Before I started the process of costuming this show, I tried to look online everywhere for tips about how to do this change, but there were only a few videos of people getting into Tin Man makeup (the West End production is one!!) and one of someone getting out. So here are my tips and tricks for a successful Tin Man with less stress.

So here are the products that I used to get the Tin Man makeup on:

  • Kyrolan Aquacolor in Silver
  • Mehron metallic powder in silver – only used during intermission for minor touch ups to the silver.
  • E.L.F. cream eyeliner in black
  • Kryolan Supracolor cream wheel – used the white for highlights.
  • NYX jumbo eye pencil in Milk – to cover his brows and prime his eyelids
  • NYX Wicked Lippie in Cold Hearted
  • Cover Girl eye shadow palette 205 – Tropical Fusion – the blue color for his eyes


These are the 3 brushes I used. Two are from E.L.F., and one of them is actually a paint brush. This proves that you don’t need to spend big bucks on name brand makeup brushes, because these brushes kick butt and I used them for everything. As a matter of fact, I just ordered more for Cats. To apply the silver, I just used a regular, damp triangle makeup sponge.


For those wondering, this is what the Kryolan Aquacolor in silver looks like. I applied it to my hands with a damp sponge and this is only after one swipe and a few pats. The coverage is complete and opaque. If you’re wondering how it handles different pigmentation due to different skin tones, acne, scars, etc, I challenge you to find the massively discolored scar in this picture. Aquacolors are also very bulletproof. He was definitely sweating a lot in that Tin Man suit, and during intermission I only needed to touch up the areas around his funnel hat, where the combination of friction plus sweat rubbed the makeup off just a little bit.

NOW, here’s the tricky part: Turning the Tin Man back into Hickory.

Ponds cold cream

This stuff. Cold cream. Isn’t that for old ladies? I don’t know. But cold cream plus makeup remover wipes (the CVS knock-off brand in the big blue package) does the trick. To be efficient, I set up three wet wipes – two with cold cream – and two dry Kleenex towels, and did this well before he even got off stage. I also set up his clothes neatly folded on a ladder, so everything was accessible.


There I am freaking out for our last ever quick change! Yes, it’s dark back there! But the first picture is of the makeup wipes all lined up on a rung of a ladder, the second is of each item of clothing on a separate rung, and like I said, me.

Here he comes! 4:38pm

Here he comes! 4:38pm

Order of operations:

  1. Take the heart, axe, funnel hat, and cowl off. RIP the body off.
  2. WHILE someone else is essentially cutting him out of the legs and unzipping his silver boots.
  3. WHILE he is removing his gloves and arms and boots.
  4. Then, hand him his Hickory shirt, which has been outfitted with Velcro so that we don’t need to fiddle with buttons.
  5. As someone is helping him get his legs into his pants and he starts to do his pants, slather his face with the cold cream wipes. Rub.
  6. At some point, Toto is coming upstairs so you have to pause to get the dog ready for its entrance as well.
  7. Someone helps the Tin Man into his farm shoes, while another person puts his suspenders on, while he and I finish removing the makeup.
  8. One person stands by with a flashlight so we can see where he still has silver or other makeup.
  9. Dry towel wipe every now and then to remove residue.
  10. Use the last makeup remover wipe to get off any remaining sparkles, lipstick, or blue eye shadow.
  11. Hat.
  12. Go.
  13. Rejoice.
Carnage at 4:41pm

Carnage at 4:41pm

Now, while I just washed the Aquacolor off of my hand with soap and water in a matter of 15 seconds, the addition of other makeup (eyeliner, shadow, etc) and the time crunch means that for this Tin Man situation, the emollient cold cream works better than just a soap and water rag.

So there you go. 3 people + 1 Tin Man = 1 minute and 30 seconds, give or take. Boom. Done. Celebrate.

Final curtain call.  Hickory saying thanks and goodbye at 4:46pm

Final curtain call. Hickory saying thanks and goodbye at 4:46pm

And now it’s all over.

Good thing I have 3 more shows coming up in January, February, and March!


Author: Allyssa Ellen

A costumer, a makeup artist, an educator, and a librarian, all rolled up into one convenient, fun-sized package.

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