I heard an interesting little story recently, from Mark Harapiak who is currently touring with Camelot as King Arthur.
When Mark’s mother, Carol, passed away two years ago, he had the bittersweet task of cleaning out her belongings. Having been in that position myself, I know it’s, of course, a very sad time. But it can also be interesting and maybe even amusing to see what our parents considered worth keeping, and what secret items they had tucked away. It turns out that Mark’s grandmother had died five years before that, and among her things, Carol had found two long braids of hair. Carol had had her long hair cut off when she was young, and her mother had always kept the braids. When Mark later found the braids, he and his wife, actor Blythe Wilson, decided to offer the hair to Jerry Altenberg , a wig-maker they knew from the Stratford Festival.
It turned out that Jerry was employed in making wigs for the Mirvish/Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Sound of Music in Toronto. Blythe had the role of Baroness Schraeder (the Captain’s fiancé at the beginning of the show). Jerry asked her if it would be too strange to wear a wig made of her Mark’s mother’s hair. Blythe felt that it would be very nice; so if you saw the Baroness on stage, it’s interesting to know that she was wearing her mother-in-law’s hair! Jerry also put a few strands from the braids in all the wigs in The Sound of Music.
Word about the unique wig spread, and a musical group called the Dust Poets wrote a song about the braids called “56 Year Old Wig”, which you can see performed on YouTube. .
Mark sends an update – The Sound of Music closed in Toronto, and the wig is now on its way to Australia to be in The Sound of Music there.