Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of conducting a somewhat unconventional interview with one of the unsung stars of innovative Broadway costume design: Dr. Marc Beshar, the dentist behind the false tooth pieces in a variety of shows! Read on for some of the highlights of our conversation, illuminating the importance of some of Dr. Beshar’s work.
I know that you made a set of fake teeth that are currently being used in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway! Could you elaborate on the process of making those?
They contacted my office and asked if the actor and costume designer could come in and discuss exactly what they had in mind. We talked about the character, and determined that I had to make a piece to give him really ugly teeth.
Hopefully that’s not something you see too often!
Thankfully, it’s not. It was kind of a “reverse project”. So that was something different. I was set to make some really ugly teeth for this character, but there were a couple of challenges. First, we had to make sure they could come in and out really quickly since Jefferson Mays is also playing a bunch of other characters in the show and needed to change quickly! Another issue was that they couldn’t obstruct his voice while he was speaking. So designing them was sort of a challenge. We had to make a prototype, and redesign them over and over. First they were too big, then too small… Another challenge was making them stay in! And the poor costume changer has to rip them out between scenes during the show.
Wow. That sounds like a really difficult process! That’s got to take a lot of patience. What other shows have you worked on?
My biggest project ever was the Broadway production of Dracula in 2004. I had to make vampire teeth for everyone- Kelli O’Hara, everyone in the ensemble- the whole cast. And after I made vampire teeth for everyone in the show, a while after, I had a couple of young people, probably around your age, come in and ask if I could make vampire teeth for them, for fun! Just to wear around!
That’s hilarious! Any other fun Broadway work or stories?
I did another piece for All My Sons a while ago. I had to make some old man teeth. I also made some for Lauren Graham, you might know her from Gilmore Girls. I made them for a revival of Guys and Dolls that she was in. I had to give her some missing teeth, for a “farm girl” character.
So how do you go about making it look like someone’s missing a tooth? That sounds difficult.
It’s actually pretty simple. It just involves blacking teeth out so you can’t see them from more than a couple feet away.
What, exactly, are some of these pieces made out of?
They’re usually just sort of invisible tooth liners. Kind of like Invisalign.
Oh, yeah! I wear Invisalign.
Well then you’re practically on your way to becoming a Broadway star!
Thank you so much to Dr. Beshar for taking the time to talk with us– and for reminding us that there are so many paths toward finding your success on the Great White Way!
Photo via Broadway Direct