Today I saw the Dallas Theatre Centers production of the The Wiz. As we entered the theatre I noticed that the balconies that were normally their, were gone to make way for a very interactive show. We were then taken to our seats or 'pods', we sit down and take in the rather cramped small acting area where the show takes place. Lights come up and we see Dorthy in the dress made famous by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic. The set for the first scene was a backdrop and a house built in prospective complete with close line. One of my favorite things watching the Wizard of Oz is the tornado. I have seen some really impressive scenes throughout the years, houses have been flown above and across the stage with computer graphic and built tornadoes ripping across, so I was rather excited to see the tornado scene here. So... we see lights flicker, scenery we see before us is flown above the stage, house twirls around, and the the front row, or front row pods, were broken apart and and were swept away onto the now very large stage. It was like being at Universal Studios riding 'The Wiz Musical Experience'. I think it was about 4-5 sections that broke apart and took the audince for a spin for the first scene. So then we catch up with scarecrow. Scarecrow came into are moving pod and sang, even slapped me on the leg, no kidding, stumbled around and won are hearts. Scene change time came around. Are pod section broke apart and moved, literally, down the yellow brick road. It truly made you feel like you were in the show, I mean you have scarecrows slapping you on the leg, you are in the show and all over the stage, even lit with the lights. This experienece continued throughout the entire production. You didn't know where you were going to end up, you didn't even know who you would be next to. I would say about 65% of the entire audience were in the 'pods' and were taken for a spin. The evil, wicked ol witch made her dramatic exit through a lift in the floor. The scenery was minimal but very effective. I think this type of show will pave the way for non theatre goers to make in to see a show. Was this enjoyable? YES! This show did a few things. Number one: entertained us. Number two: cooled us down from this awful Texas heat. And number three: made it feel like we got on a plane to visit Universal Studios without having to spend the money on a hotel room. Kudos to The Dallas Theatre Center for introducing us to a new experience in the theatre. I would love to see a show or two like this introduce itself to Broadway. I mean could you imagine riding Wicked the Musical?!
Going to see Cats tonight, The Wiz tomorrow and wrapping that up with detail painting my Mikado set on Monday & Tuesday just before we open on Wednesday! After all of that, I get a little break, 2-3 weeks, and then I have a production meeting for Pillow Talk. Well, it's not that much of a break because I have to put together an artist's rendering for the production meeting. Trailing behind that is Pollyanna in December.
This Saturday I will being attending Cats presented by Garland Summer Musicals. I am excited to see this show, as mentioned earlier I saw a sneak peak on the set and a quick-see at a rehearsal and I have a feeling it's going to be very good! They have employed a 20ish piece orchestra to fill the 800 seat proscenium theatre at the Granville Arts Center (more than the music hall). I am taking my mom to see this show, I was the first to take her to see her first big show, my favorite, The Phantom of the Opera, so I hope she likes this.
I have been keeping up with America's Got Talent this year. Many people on the show have been amazing and some just scary. Last night's show was very good as the stronger one's are left on the show. For one operatic number they flew in, lowered from the stage, a huge, golden picture frame to frame the artist in while she sang flawlessly as Carmen. The frame was very cool, very simple and the surprising thing is you could see the seams where they had constructed it! Little disappointed because they have the best people in the industry to build this thing. On my set for The Mikado I have tapped the seams so you could not see them as much, however, you can still see them because the tape wrinkles. I need all seems to go away! In the past I have even painted sets very carefully to hide seams and yet they still lurk around the corner. The only way to get ride of them is in careful design, putting putty over it or, like I did in Noises Off, just cover the walls in fabric and pass it as wall paper, hang a drape over a seem and lastly be best friends with the lighting designer and have them carefully light the set.
Painted another 30 hours this weekend, 60 in total but I have not counted all the volunteers help that was sooo needed! The best way to describe the finished set is 'blocked color'. I did not put very much texture on the set to give it the kid feel that was needed. After all, this show is presented by Children on Stage and families will be bringing the kiddos to see this so it, the set, must engage 8-12 year olds or the design just doesn't work. If I had of designed this set for an adult audience the set would have changed drastically and would have been more real looking rather than like a coloring book. I am very happy with the finished product and I hope others will be too! Now lets get the detail painting done...chop chop!
Check out this video on how the Seattle Opera made stage scenery for Amelia the opera. Thank you to the Seattle Opera for the following design video.
So...I was doing a google search on 'Broadway Set Design' and I was scrolling through some amazing pictures of sets, renderings and other cool stuff. When I got to the third page I saw a set design that I thought looked familiar, it was my Greater Tuna set! Thought that was strange since I have never designed a Broadway show this year or ever but thought it was neat. Below was my design for Greater Tuna.
Phantom of the Opera is now making it's way into museums! How cool is that. I had a backstage tour last year and saw these up close with a friend of mine. We wondered around with the company manger and was taken back at the scale of everything. They are going to remount Phantom in an all new production in a decade or so for a new touring show said the company manager.
Went to the theatre last night only to take notes on what needs to be done to get the show open. LOTS & LOTS NEEDS TO BE PAINTED! It makes me feel better knowing I have a list of things that needs to be done. This might be a silly Virgo thing but it helps. Here is a sneak peak on what we have done so far. The picture to the left is the model and the picture to the right is what we have painted and built so far. Pictures below belong to Stage Design by Joseph.
I have been working very hard to bring my realm of The Mikado to life for the Children on Stage series. Had to make some changes due to budget and one idea looked better on paper but not so much in real life. Was a little upset but the change was for the better. Couple more weeks and this project will be over. Trying to fit Pillow Talk in this same space but much more realistic.
Enjoy reading my encounters in and around theatre set design.
"The object of art is to give life a shape" -Shakespeare-