Meet Karin Craven, Wig Supervisor on Phantom Tour
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
*Note: Phantom of the Opera tour will be closing in February 2020. Welcome home soon, everyone! If you need any help adjusting to civilian life, check out this blog post!
Who is this human?
Karin Craven is a God damn legend.
With a combined 6.5 years of touring under her belt, she has so much valuable information to give! I was lucky enough to meet Karin at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2012. Company members kept popping into the Company Management office, asking me in excited shouts: "DID YOU HEAR?! Karin Craven is coming!"I had heard, but had no clue who this bitch was. But, man...I sure do now. She's a smart, sparkly and kind human who possess incredible talent and epic work ethic.
She started her touring career on the 1st National Tour of Memphis as the Assistant Wig Supervisor. Previously, she was the Wig Master and then Wig Director for multiple seasons at Utah Shakespeare in the infamous "Hair House". She also worked at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA as the Wig Master for 3 years. Let us not forget, this woman has a Master's degree in Wig and Makeup Design and Technology from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.
Please enjoy Karin's deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings (or just like, some of her thoughts and tips, whatevs).
Karin "At Home" & Favorite Cities
Our fair maiden hails from Arlington, VA, and now owns a house in Albany, NY. She and her Fiancé, DJ Hornyak, who also travels with Phantom as Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor, rarely see their home in Albany. "I strive to feel at home wherever I am, since I'm usually on the road 51 weeks a year. I have a workbox at Phantom that I decorated with personal trinkets and lots of pictures of family and friends- it's my portable 3'x7' home. There are also some cities that I've played so many times, they feel second homes: San Fran, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh... but DC-VA will always feel most like home."
In fact, when Karin plays the Kennedy Center, she gets to live at home with her parents and revisit her high school bedroom. Ah, sweet hormonal memories.
Favorite Parts of Tour
Everyone has hobbies and interests, and on tour, you get to enjoy your favorite things on steroids. Karin most enjoys the ability to go places she's always wanted to go. "On our day off in Omaha, DJ and I drove 8 hours each way to see Mt Rushmore. It was in no way a relaxing day off, but it was memorable for sure. During this tour I've been to 47 national parks, I don't even know how many national monuments, and countless tourist traps. I also love spending time in cities most people would never think to go to- Tulsa, OK is one of my favorite cities in the country, who woulda thought it?"(Umm, me! Yes, please! I also loved Tulsa and the highlight for me was The Max, a RetroPub outfitted with 80's and 90's arcade games. )
She and DJ will go for a hike, go to sporting activities, find breweries or distilleries, and a much needed adventure: Nap. "I try to take advantage of whatever a city has to offer but sometimes I'm just tired and want a dang nap."
Least Favorite Parts of Tour
"I don't love flying. Or rather, I don't love airports, I'm always paranoid we're going to miss our flight or my luggage gets lost (which never happens, but 5 years later I still can't sleep the night before we fly). So, DJ and I would drive whenever possible, which afforded more random side trips."
Sleeping & Crafting & Veganism, oh my.
She is highly aware that self care is important on the road, but admits that no one has really cracked an official code to figure it out.
"I don't know a single person who really has it fully figured out. I try to eat healthy, but I'm a vegan so eating can be really difficult in some parts of the country (most veggies in the south have bacon in them... it's super frustrating), and then also factor in our weird hours and the fact that we might be in a downtown with no cars, food options can be limited. I eat way more veggie burgers with sweet potato fries than anybody should." And then there's good old fashioned rest and relaxation. "I love sleeping, I'm probably one of the better rested people out here. And I travel a bunch of crafting supplies so at the end of the day I can turn off my brain and doodle or letter or whatever I feel like doing that night."
Romance on the Road
Our dynamic duo has not always been lucky enough to tour together. Karin met DJ while on a sit down with 'Memphis' in Schenectady, NY. After the tour loaded out, they were diligent about making time to see each other while being in a long distance relationship.
"He was dressing part of our male ensemble. We hung out a few times that week and then he started visiting every so often. He would also come visit when I was working in Utah or Atlanta. We tried to stick to seeing each other at least every 6 weeks. Then about a year into my tenure on 'Phantom' he was hired as the assistant wardrobe supervisor, so we've been touring together ever since."
Karin's Best Tour Tips
1. Get a really good credit card, the kind with all the perks. We are paid a per diem but then put our hotel rooms on our credit cards and we just watch those points add up!
2. Remember this is still real life. Sometimes people act like they are on permanent vacation, like what happens on tour stays on tour and that just isn't the case. I've seen people cheat on their spouses, drink like it's Mardi Gras every night, gamble or spend all their money instead of saving, etc. I try really hard not to do anything that I wouldn't do if I were living my life back home. Maybe I'm boring, but at least I won't be broke and divorced.
3. When it's one of those days where I just don't wanna be at work, when I'm tired or grumpy because it's a holiday, I remind myself that our show may be someone's birthday/Christmas/anniversary gift, it might be someone's first show or someone's last show... it reminds me my job is to make other people happy and that usually makes me happy, too.
KARIN ON TOUR ORGANIZATION
Due to the HUGE size of the show, Phantom sits down in cities for minimum 2 weeks and can stay for about 2 months in large cities. Karin's load in start at 8am with a game of workbox Tetris until they find a configuration that all parties can agree work best.
"That usually takes about 10 minutes. Then we unpack and set up our wig stands, get out the rollers and hair products and by 8:30 we're styling wigs!"
Like most tour folk, Karin has organized her work space to be accessible, functional and easy. "I love labeling, especially color coded labeling. I want anyone to be able to walk into my hair room and be able to easily find any wig in the show. Good organization is really important out here." Preach, girl. Church.
Her favorite organizing tools are Sharpies and gaff tape.
"As you can tell from my pics most of my labels are hand written. We have a p-touch but the batteries are always dead or out of label tape so... handwritten it is!"
But it can't be all sunshine and rainbows. "I let my workbox get ridiculously messy. I move from project to project so quickly that I never stop to clean up. The pile of rollers and pins grows every day...It gets pretty embarrassing. Attached is a pic of what my work box looks like by the end of our 8 hour load in."
Packing & Unpacking
Karin is a chronic under-packer and only takes 5 minutes to settle into her hotel room, usually with 'Parks & Rec' or 'Friends' on in the background. She travels one duffel bag, one 27" suitcase, and one trunk. "For a hotel, I plug in my phone charger and call it a day. I live out of my suitcase most of the time. If I'm in an airbnb I'll take a little more time- maybe rearrange things more to my liking, fill the fridge, maybe put some clothes away. I used to spend more time 'moving in' but the longer I've stayed out here, the lazier I've become."
She uses her duffel bag to carry her reusable items (kitchen kit, bags, and "misc crap") and the large bag is her clothes and toiletries. She has a packing cube for vitamins and medicines and uses silicone travel bags for her bar soap and shampoo.
"I don't travel a lot of clothes, I've cycled the same 6 black tank tops for years. I'm very low maintenance with clothes... probably too low maintenance."
Her trunk is used for out-of-season clothes, fancy clothes for parties, hiking and camping stuff, snorkeling stuff, and whatever crafting stuff she can't fit in her workbox. All her clothes in the trunk are in giant ziplock storage bags - organized so when she opens the lid, she can see everything.
Her Packing Hiccups
1. Moving from vastly different climate conditions. "How do you even pack for that?...Sometimes I send a winter box home, or if we are popping home for a day in between cities I'll drop off my winter stuff. Summer stuff is so much smaller, thinner, lighter so they fit in my trunk. I originally had a really cute pair of rain boots in my trunk, but I would always forget to grab them out of my trunk so I never actually got to use them."
2. Frustrations when things don't fit back in the suitcase the way they did the time before.
Karin's Final Thoughts
"Touring gives you the opportunity to do some really random and cool stuff! I've fed a black bear and tiger, biked through alligator habitats in the Everglades, seen Bonnie and Clyde's graves, camped in a teepee, visited the OK Corral, toured multiple NFL stadiums... I've gone more places and seen more things than most people will ever go or see, and I'm so grateful to have had these opportunities to do so."
Check out Karin's Instagram at @kecraventheraven and encourage her to post some more pictures so we can feed our Craven cravings.