Local 706 - The Artisan

Summer 2017

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24 Photos by Scott Strazzante, the Chronicle B Y J O S H U A K O S M A N (Reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle) 12. "It's my nature to work very quickly," Jones said with understated pride. "I think that's one of the things that has made me valuable to the company." Well, that and his impeccable eye. And his deep knowledge of theatrical tradition—not just make-up, but also wigs and costumes and scenery and all the other things that go into the look of an operatic production. There's also his ability to calm a jittery tenor with a bit of sympathetic conversation or well-judged silence, which is a critical asset in a profession that sometimes seems to have a family relation to those of bartender, priest and therapist. Jones' serene, methodical approach to his work radiates to his colleagues as well, helping mitigate any tendency to backstage nerves. But Sunday's matinee, in addition to being the last perfor- mance of the season, also marked the end of Jones' 45-year tenure with the company. Just shy of his 82nd birthday, Jones—known to all on both sides of the curtain as Bill—is hanging up his brushes and powders and heading off into a well-earned retirement. The company marked the event at the end of the perfor- mance, honoring Jones as he took a bow, along with the cast and conductor. But even before that—as principal singers trooped between their dressing rooms and the stage, and child choristers tromped up and down the backstage stairs— Jones' co-workers were eager to talk about the imprint he will leave on the company. "We all adore Bill," said Jeanna Parham, the Department Head who is both Jones' boss and his former student. "Some of us have known him for a long time, and others are newer, but we're all sad to see him go. When someone of Bill's stat- ure retires, it has a huge impact on the department." Elizabeth Poindexter, a fellow make-up artist, echoed the sentiment. "I knew the name Bill Jones long before I came to work here. His infl uence has been felt throughout the Bay Area." Jones' legacy has spread beyond the confi nes of the War Memorial. For decades, he taught at San Francisco State University, where he nurtured several generations of stu- dents—many of whom have gone onto work alongside him at the opera. He spent 18 years as art director of KQED- TV, which he credits with helping him to see in grayscale— a helpful ability when crafting theatrical make-up. He designed shows for the Lamplighters and created many of the more outlandish costumes during the heyday of Beach Blanket Babylon, often on lightning-fast turnaround. "Steve (Silver) loved me because I was quick," says Jones. "I could make any of the things he wanted—and he always wanted every idea he had put into the next day's show." Slim and erect, with a luxuriant white beard and an air of amiable dignity, Jones set about his assignments on Sunday with practiced ease. His day began with the Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz, who was singing the lead role of the penniless poet Rodolfo. There was no wig required— Midway through Sunday's performance of La Bohème at the San Francisco Opera, Dale Travis made his way to his dressing room on the second-fl oor backstage at the War Memorial Opera House. The venerable and versatile bass- baritone was taking on two very different roles in Puccini's opera—the shabby landlord Benoît and the tuxedoed sugar daddy Alcindoro—and there was just 20 minutes to affect the transformation. William Stewart Jones, the company's longest serving principal make-up artist, had him in and out of the chair in BOWING OUT OF A CAREER MADE UP OF ARTISTRY Bill Jones readies Arturo Chacón-Cruz for his role as Rodolfo.

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