The sounds of music and stage production are ringing out in the Williston Theater as preparations continue for the winter musical show, The SpongeBob Musical. But on a recent afternoon the buzz quieted down and focus was put on center stage when Joe Dulude II, the makeup designer for the original Broadway production of The SpongeBob Musical, stopped by for a makeup demonstration and Q&A segment.
“It’s important for theater students and aspiring theater-makers to hear from industry professionals about their journey,” Theater Director Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said of the visit, “what kind of work they had to do before they landed big gigs, what their creative process is, how they continually train themselves, the work etiquette they must exhibit to continue getting work.”
Dulude spent an hour with students and faculty, starting first with a short talk about his professional journey before applying makeup to a pair of students while he fielded questions from the audience. Dulude is best known for his makeup design—including work for shows like Wicked, MJ The Musical, and KPOP—but also spoke about his painting and teaching careers, and his love for drag performing.
Students quizzed Dulude on a range of topics from the number of tattoos he has (28, maybe 29, depends on how you count them) to his favorite design he’s worked on (Madame Morrible in Wicked). All the while, he applied the makeup he designed for Ms. Piggy in The SpongeBob Musical to student Lexi Paez ‘23, and then put Grace McCullagh ‘25 in makeup for a character from the Broadway production of Beetlejuice.
One key point that Dulude made was that anyone listening should be willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations, in order to push themselves forward. Confidence, Dulude said, is something wonderful to have but it can take a while to build it up. During that process Dulude said it was critical to continue exposing yourself to new things.
“What I hope people take away is to be themselves and be who they want to be and to fight and really work to get to where you want to, because it can happen,” he said.
For the Theater Director, those words were better than music to his ears. “I thought it was especially valuable to hear from Joe how he’s a well-rounded artist,” Rodriguez said. “Hearing his journey to self-acceptance and confidence in who he is was a tremendously valuable discussion of being true to yourself.”
No stage fright for anyone
Dulude noted that speaking engagements aren’t a new thing for him, but the frequency of school visits has dropped for him in recent years. Standing on stage in the theater after his talk ended, Dulude talked about what already stood out to him from this particular visit.
“I’ve done many of these in the past, and I was really excited that so many [students] had questions, and more in-depth questions, too,” Dulude said. “That was really cool, because a lot of times, especially in these environments, they are too afraid to speak up and ask their questions.”
Working with a Williston alumna
One of Dulude’s more recent credits is the makeup design work for KPOP, a musical that made its Broadway debut in 2022. That show was co-produced by Miranda Gohh ’13.
While Dulude said he didn’t cross paths with Gohh very often, the musical was one he thoroughly enjoyed working on because of the excitement of the cast and crew. “I actually fell in love with the show because of the people,” he said, “and because there was that energy.”
Back on campus, Willistonian writer Lauren Yee ’23 went behind the scenes of our production of The SpongeBob Musical to talk with cast and crew about the energy they’re feeling. Read her story here. To see more pictures from Dulude’s visit, head to our Flickr page.