Touring with Thriller Live by Jessica Ayliffe

Melanie Crump Alumni Comments


As I was boarding the flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong international airport by myself, the nerves were starting to kick in. I was going to be working as a wigs mistress on a West End touring production of Thriller Live ! All about the King of Pop.

After a 10 hour plane journey and a further hour ferry ride to Macau I was finally there. If you’ve never heard of Macau before (like me) its basically a Chinese Las Vegas. With the Parisian hotel, The Venetian, Wynn Palace and Studio city, anyone would have felt like they had stepped into the wrong country.

The buildings where absolutely amazing and massive, with fully marbled floors and walls, fresh flowers and different themes throughout the hotels/ malls. I was in awe with it all for the full 6 weeks I was there. However I had noticed that my directional skills left a little to be desired as I would get lost through the gigantic buildings on my way to work most days.

The show was based solely at The Parisian Hotel, which was a beautiful venue and newly refurbished. To be joining a tight-knit group of people that work together 24/7 made me feel a little nervous at first but I was warmly welcomed and soon become a part of the team. I really enjoyed my time at work as well as my free time to explore Macau and what it had to offer.

I went with my new friends to visit the Panda sanctuary where a mother panda had just given birth to two tiny babies. Being the tourist that I was, I was determined to go and visit a Chinese temple and it was magnificent. More beautiful and traditional than what I had ever expected. Incense candles could be brought as a sign of respect and were lit outside the temple; splashes of green, gold and red and the most unbelievably grand architecture filled the landscape .

Through out my time in Macau I learnt a lot about the back stage runnings of a big show and about the different roles within it. I’m getting good at the quick changes and I had to do a quite a few of these whilst in Macau. I am pleased to say that I am now off to Chichester to work at the ‘ Chichester Festival Theatre’ as a wigs show person for the next 5 months. I know what I learnt from my time in Macau will be a great help to me whilst I’m working and hopefully I can return to a West End production soon.

Day as a wigs mistress:

  • At 5 o’clock I would walk over to the theatre and brush the dancer’s false ponytails and turn on the straighteners.
  • I’d make sure there were enough tissues for the dancers.
  • I’d brush the dancers hair back off their face and tie and pin their ponytails in place. They needed to be SUPER secure.

30 Minute Call:

  • At the 30 minute call I would go to the lead female vocalist’s (Cleopatra Higgins) dressing room.
  • I wrapped a tight blue bandage around her hair line and pinned it in place. Then a stocking cap was put over the rest of her head, away from her front hairline.
  • Next was the big afro wig. I’d place this on, with help from Cleo holding it at the front, and secure it with 2 large geisha pins at the top of the wig- matte black grips at the front hairline and wide flat pins at the back. I made sure to leave a little gap at the back for the microphone.

15 Minute call:

  • At the 15 minute call I would go to Michael Jackson’s (Sean Christopher) dressing room and place a stocking cap and wig onto this head.
  • The wig was secured using two pins either side of the head- one at the temple and the other behind the ear, as well as a wide grip at the crown of his head.

5 Minute call:

  • Make sure all the dancers have their ponytails secured and are ready.

Let the show begin !!!


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