“This is truly my dream job!”
For as long as she can remember, Sue Weil has loved makeup. In fact, her earliest memory involves this passion.
“I was probably about four years old and got into my mom’s lipstick and put it on,” says Weil, ScareHouse’s Assistant Manager in the Makeup Department. “I had red all over my face, and after that, I always got makeup for Christmas and birthdays.”
Eventually, Weil became a civil designer for a landscape architecture firm, but her interest in makeup and body painting never wavered, so she turned it into a side hustle.
“I have been the luckiest person as far as my opportunities. I filmed a TV show on the West Coast (Sit and Be Fit). I trained with and worked for FABAIC, the world’s largest Face and Body Art International Convention down in Orlando. I worked 100 shows with Cirque du Soleil, the Varekai show. I have my own face and body painting business. And I did this all while working full-time (although I took a sabbatical for Cirque du Soleil)! I’ve been the luckiest girl. I met the right people at the right times in my life.”
Plus, she worked at the Pittsburgh Zoo for 17 years, serving as co-chair for events like Zoo Boo and production manager of their Light Fright haunted attraction, before making the leap to ScareHouse, where she’s been for the last 13 years.
“This is going to sound terrible, but the more I got into the SFX blood, it fascinated me to make the blood patterns, to try to make it look real. There are a lot of opportunities with creativity and where you can go. Plus, the people at ScareHouse are just so wonderful, and I love working with Mollie Himes!”
When it comes to painting ScareHouse actors, there are a few things Weil likes to keep in mind.
“I always want to see the costume, and I want to know the personality behind the character. I really need to know that before I can expand. What kind of room are they in? Where are they going to be? What’s the lighting in the room? There are a lot of factors in deciding what the makeup will look like. One of the most important things is making sure, after all that is done, that the actors feel good. When they look in the mirror and go, ‘Yeah!’ – that’s the best feeling ever. You can see it in their faces and their attitudes.”
With so many different characters, does Weil have a favorite one to work on?
“I do dig the clown’s makeup. I like doing the clowns in general. The bloody zombies [are also fun]. Each one can be different. We do have certain characters that definitely have to be done exactly as written, but with the zombies, you have a lot of freedom. You can do it a little differently every time.”
In 2024, after 47 years as a civil designer, Weil plans on retiring from her day job, but that doesn’t mean the same for ScareHouse.
“I had mentioned to somebody else about retiring, and then Nicole [Conniff] our design manager caught wind of it, and she said, ‘You never should have let me find that out!’ I’m guessing I’ll be a little more involved in whatever they need. Sometimes I’ll act. I’m a fill-in for things when they need it. Whatever they need, I’m good with. I can’t wait! It’ll be great to be putting more time in at ScareHouse! I feel so lucky to be part of this team. This is truly my dream job.”