Meet Carly Ackerman - Hair/Wig Designer for Sense & Sensibility


Tell me about yourself!

I am from right here in Fort Collins. I paint, craft, garden, ski, swim, hike, etc. In my spare time, I am a bit of a jack of all trades. I am willing to try just about anything once! I have been doing hair professionally for over a decade, and I love it! I am a bit of a hair nerd and I really love to geek out over the science of trichology (hair).

What made you decide to get involved with Sense and Sensibility?

Sydney Smith is one of my clients. I went on a full-blown rant one day about how enraged I get with historical movies that don't do period-appropriate hair that isn't in keeping with a characterization (Little Women...I am looking at you with all the long flowing beach waves on women who are out in society, with no bonnets). Anyway, she mentioned that OpenStage was doing Sense & Sensibility, and the rest is history I guess.

Tell me about your vision for the hair design for the show. What were your inspirations?

This production is so unique playing fast and loose with gender, set design, etc. So the hair has to keep up. With each actor playing multiple characters in rapid succession that definitely meant lots of wigs. I love the Regency period so I took inspiration from the title work, and all of Austen's other work. Fashion plates of the era are always great source material. I also used a loose interpretation of the greater time period of the show trying to match characters' traits to the type of hairstyles they might choose.

I know that this is your first foray into stage production - What are the biggest differences between designing hair for a character versus styling hair for real life?

The biggest difference is instead of getting to ask the client their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, I had to generate those answers from my source materials, and match my visions of what that is with each actor, and the director, so I guess not too different honestly. When I create styles for brides, or even just day-to-day cuts or color I try my best to really see people, listen deeply, and understand who they are. I have always looked at my job as a collaboration between me and the person sitting in front of me trusting me to bring their beauty and vision for themselves to the surface. I did the same thing with the wigs and styles I created for the show.

What is your favorite thing about styling/designing hair and wigs?

I love creating something that makes someone really come to life, feel good in their skin, and reflect the person they are back to the world. I also really love educating my clients. I think a large part of my job is teaching people about the stuff that is going on in their heads. I don't know where else we expect people to get that information if their hairstylist isn't sharing the knowledge they spend their career collecting. I also sometimes really enjoy freaking people out with how much random stuff I instantly know about them just from their hair and scalp.

What is the hardest thing about styling/designing hair and wigs?

Hair is hair; there were a few learning curves when I first got into wigs, and stage hair has to really be able to hold up to some abuse. So that is an extra challenge. The biggest challenge on this production was the Fanny/Lucy wig. I had to create it from scratch since Fanny is a brunette and Lucy is a redhead. Once I sewed the wig I then had to match the two styles I had already created for Fanny and Lucy... It was so fun to see it come to life.

Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Noah Racey
Original Score by Aaron Gandy

March 26 – April 23, 2022

When reputation is everything, how do you follow your heart? This fresh, spirited update of Jane Austen’s beloved novel follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood Sisters ‒ “sensible” Elinor and “sensitive” Marianne ‒ after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. Exploring what it is to be women traversing society, gossip and the opposing opinions of your heart and mind, Hamill’s adaptation explores the classic story with humor and bold theatricality, highlighted by original music and movement.