Category Archives: Design Stuff

My design work for theatre and other venues

Wicked fun

we took the family on a trip to Richmond yesterday. We went to see the national tour of Wicked. It was my first time seeing the show, but not the first time I heard the music. My kids have been obsessively requesting the CD since last spring. It great to finally see the book scenes. The staging was fun and had a really good pace. It was interesting how it seemed that more book scenes were in the second act, or at least half the songs in the second act were short reprises of previous songs. I liked how they integrated the existing elements from the Wizard of Oz movie. In that way it departed from the novel, but was understandable considering more of the audience would be familiar with the original movie than Gregory Maguire’s version.

But of course I can’t just watch a show like this, I was constantly figuring out how they did it. Seeing which set pieces repeated, seeing how they use projection, looking for the person onstage that clips Galinda’s harness everytime she gets in or out of her flying ‘bubble circle’. That being said, I don’t feel that it takes away from my enjoyment of the show. I really think I may have enjoyed it more.Although McKelvey was rapt the whole time. Perhaps a show like this can’t be enjoyed more by anyone other than a little girl.

McKelvey thoroughly enjoyed herself. Although Arden had to keep asking questions to keep up with the plot, I think she also had a fabulous time.

Afterward we went out to dinner, in the Carytown section of Richmond. It had some cool shops and a bunch of different restaurants. It reminded me of areas of Chicago or Brooklyn. I wish we could have taken a block of it back to Lexington.

So I loved the show, and while watching it figured out how to do it at W&L.

Without hiring a flying company.

Tech or treat

In the middle of tech for Where We’re Born. The first with actors. We are at the point that we have everything the actors need, doors, props and all that. Now I just need to add the layers to the design. The walls are just flat, they have no texture. None of the age and distressing has happened yet. But I feel pretty good about it. I have a full week before we open. So that is plenty of time to finish up what this show needs, and still have time to go trick or treating with the kids.

It is great to see the show come together, all the little tweaks and adjustments that tighten up the story. I love seeing how the lights take it up a notch. They really ratchet up the mood and I think it helps the actors a lot. Although we keep having to stop and get them to actually deal with the light switches. ;)

But hearing the rhythm of the words in conjunction with the rhythm of the screen door slamming and the crunch of the fallen leaves under their feet is awesome. Some people don’t like tech rehearsals because they take a lot of time. I think it is fun to see the show come together.

But sometimes the production at home is more fun than the production at school. I am ready to go trick or treat!

Even when it’s done, it’s not done

It has been a while since I have written. As you might have guessed from my last post, I have been painting. In between my work at etc, I took a design gig for a group called Aquila. I was working on the set for a Comedy of Errors, which I had designed for them back in 1998. They are doing the show again so it was chance to revise a previous design. That was neat, I got to update it and freshen up the look of it, you can see the old version here. It was good I did it on the computer, since we kept revising and tweaking the look of the show right up to the time that I started to build it. Even after all of the revisions, once we installed the set up in Queens, he still wanted to change it.

Now I am down in Virginia doing my normal job while they are tweeking and altering the design. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The basic elements of the set are good, so I think that it will turnout ok. But I don’t like losing control of the final look.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Late nights and fighting the dew

I’m in tech right now, listening to the show and waiting for it to end. Waiting for it to end so I can get to work on notes. Tech rehearsals are this weird time when you’re tired from working all day, and excited to see it come together. I find myself dozing off during techs sometimes, from being tired but also to rest up for spending three or four hours painting scenery or doing changes in the lights. I’m getting used to holding a paint brush at 1am. The only problem is when the theater has shop spaces outside. Paint loves to dry during the day when the sun is out. But at night, there is not sun and the dew comes out. All that moisture really gets in the way of getting the set painted. The high humidity extends the drying time of things. That can be helpful for some techniques, but if the humidity is to high it can affect the ability of the paint to stick to the surface. When that happens, it can really slow you down.

Right now, I’m about to do a heck of a lot of woodgrain, and install a railing. By the time I get to post this it will be finished and the show will be open. Fun fun fun.