How Fox's The Masked Singer Kept Its Celebrities' Identities A Mystery

the masked singer monster mask fox

(Image credit: Fox press)

This week not only ushered in the year 2019, but more importantly for people who enjoy elaborate costumes, it marked the debut of Fox's newest reality competition, The Masked Singer. Based on the Korean TV sensation, the series' simple concept features masked celebrities showing off their singing voices. What was not simple, however, was keeping all of the famed contestants' identities under wraps. Executive producer Craig Plestis says lots of effort went into prolonging the mystery.

For instance, Craig Plestis said The Masked Singer's celebs had to remain in full head-to-toe costumes at all times before being eliminated. The producers were extremely concerned about keeping all the details under lock and key, as not to let spoilers leak out ahead of the episodes. In fact, only seven people on the production team knew all the celebrity identities! That meant the talent had to be wholly hidden. In Plestis' words:

[They had to wear] masks and special visors and couldn't show any of their skin at all --- they had to wear gloves and long pants. . . . If they came there with their manager or their loved ones or their agents, those people also had to wear costumes.

That's understandable, of course, since it's possible someone's race, gender and/or age could be generally surmised by their uncovered skin. I can't imagine that it was the most comfortable gig in the world, having to walk around in that robot suit or with those giant antlers for any amount of time, but the costumes are definitely doing what they were meant to do.

Note that everyone wasn't always fully decked out in their on-air garb, and EP Craig Plestis told Variety that they were given oversized sweatshirts that were emblazoned with the words "Don't talk to me." (I undeniably need one of those sweatshirts.) None of the celebs were picked up from their homes for rehearsals, either, and drivers met them at other locations. Plus, everyone's voices were disguised for the interview segments that run ahead of the performances.

Fans might also be surprised to learn just how much design research went into the masks themselves, with the goal being for each contestant to have as natural and unobstructed a performance as possible. Here's how Craig Plestis explained it.

A lot of research and a lot of energy was spent on sound quality and testing out these masks. It's about constructing the mask so there's not an echo; it's about making sure there's enough screens in front of the mouth --- there are certain ways to construct these masks so the voice can come out and project the voice properly. We tested it and tested it and then retested it with singers before our celebrities even put the masks on, to make sure it's not impeding their vocal quality at all.

I imagine audiences might have flipped out had the various contestants sounded all muffled and out of tune when they took the stage. Thankfully, that wasn't the case for the series premiere, and likely won't be one in any future episodes, thanks to the craftsmanship done by The Masked Singer's team.

The Masked Singer airs on Fox on Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is heading to the small screen soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.