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DiPietro’s makeup effects terrify in ‘Axeman’

In “The Axeman’s Requiem,” Daniel Darnell is horrifying as Baron Samedi, thanks to special-effects makeup by J.P. DiPietro at Bob Jones High School. CONTRIBUTED
In “The Axeman’s Requiem,” Daniel Darnell is horrifying as Baron Samedi, thanks to special-effects makeup by J.P. DiPietro at Bob Jones High School. CONTRIBUTED
J.P. DiPietro, at left, created makeup designs for these characters in “The Axeman’s Requiem,” Bob Jones High School's one-act play that won in state competition and qualified for Southeastern Theatre Conference. CONTRIBUTED
J.P. DiPietro, at left, created makeup designs for these characters in “The Axeman’s Requiem,” Bob Jones High School’s one-act play that won in state competition and qualified for Southeastern Theatre Conference. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – J.P. DiPietro has mastered the art of special effects makeup for Bob Jones High School’s production of “The Axeman’s Requiem.”

This one-act play won at state Trumbauer competition and will represent Alabama at Southeastern Theatre Conference.

Because Bob Jones doesn’t offer theatrical makeup classes, DiPietro is self-taught by watching videos and researching step-by-step tutorials. Recently, he completed a special effects course in Nashville with Academy of Make Up Arts.

“I’ve only met one other student in drama who is interested in this craft,” he said.

His interest started as a 10-year-old watching old movies like “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and “Terminator.” “I was astonished by the jaw-dropping special effects they showed. It was incredible,” DiPietro said.

DiPietro’s first creations were a hand puppet, inspired by Audery 2 from “Little Shop of Horrors,” and a latex mask of the Gill Man from “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

For “The Axeman’s Requiem,” DiPietro needs 1.5 hours to create Daniel Darnell’s horrific persona of Baron Samedi. First, DiPietro mats down Darnell’s hair. Then, Darnell rubs Vaseline over his face. DiPietro applies a thin layer of latex around Darnell’s face, avoiding eyebrows and eyes.

“I also apply tissues around his forehead and cheekbones,” DiPietro said. A mixture of cornstarch and latex builds up brow and cheekbones and “gives a gaunt look and gritty texture.”

DiPietro brushes black, water-based paint to Darnell’s entire face, neck and ears. Finally, he sponges white water-based paint around Darnell’s eyes.

A frightening monster, like Samedi, and a comical character both present challenges. “Comical characters are whimsical and appealing to the audience, while frightening monsters are more disturbing and sinister. If I had to choose, I’d go with comical,” DiPietro said.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to attend SETC. It has been an amazing experience working with talented cast members, Ms. Sherry, Ms. Davis and Mr. Craft and seeing our hard work and dedication finally pay off,” DiPietro said.

Bob Jones will compete at SETC in Greensboro, N.C. on March 2-6. In a first-time achievement for an Alabama district, James Clemens High School also won at state and qualified for SETC with “Silenced on Barbour Street.”

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