Theatre Thursday

Seussical the Musical 

The fall play at Central High School 2015 was Seussical the Musical.
I started with my model.  I am beginning to truly enjoy making models and solving the design issues on a small scale first.  The director, my friend Jeff Witt, wanted the show to be set in the 1920’s and wanted the set to have an art deco influence. He and I researched some art deco art and architecture.  We found some great pictures that inspired us – art deco palm trees and a great art deco bath tub.  We were impressed with the use of mirrors and wanted to add mirrors to the set.  I wanted to make things shades of gold and black and I wanted to use metalic surfaces are well.
My answer was metallic wrapping paper and tin foil.  I used different golds, silvers, blues and printed metallic wrapping paper on the tree tops and even added crystals from a chandelier for extra glitz.
We started the trees by double coring (gluing 2 pieces) cardboard. Then we cut them into “Seuss”like shapes.
We taped the edges to keep the integrity of the card board in tact.
Then we covered the tree tops in the foil wrapping paper.
We framed out the tree trunks and covered them with cardboard too.  The large tree trunks we painted black and added metallic “grass” to the bottoms.
We also built a false proscenium with the largest trees.  My friend, John Hatch, helped me tap into the wall with cement bolts so that we could secure the large trees to the wall from the back.  We anted the “monkeys” to be able to climb the trees, so the attachment to the wall needed to be extra strong to hold the ladders.  I now have the ability to add a false proscenium in the future without too much difficulty.
The kids worked hard.
I think it is best to supply levels for the director to work with.  I wanted the “footprint” of the set to resemble an elephants head (to honor Horton the Elephant).
We created a sweeping staircase/bridge.  We lined the stair case with mirrors.  This proved to be harder than I expected.  My problem came with the card board being flexible and the mirrors not being flexible.  When the actors stepped on the stairs and the stair would flex but the mirror would not, the mirror would pop off.  Of course, it didn’t help that the kids just blopped the liquid nail on the mirror rather than covering the mirror back from edge to edge.
I used stock platform and only built extra when I had to build.  This became a problem because all of our stock is not necessarily square and doesn’t always fit well.
This meant that the art deco painting had to be altered a bit to make both sides of the stage to match.
We made a rolling platform/ladder for the nest and attached our metallic trees.
It was fun to watch the whole thing take shape. The finishing touch for the large structure was the railings for the stair case.  I wanted something whimsical and Seuss like.  I went to the hardware store and looked around.  I finally bought gold spray paint, dishwasher drain hose, irrigation tubing and zip ties.  The resort was awesome!  Even better, I guessed the perfect amount of materials I needed.  (I planned it that way John Hatch. Really I did. 🙂
We used the scrumbling (a wet mix) method to paint the floor.  Originally, I wanted to to be a sun burst, inspired by some art deco walls in a Los Angeles Hotel I found.  However, Jeff pointed out that it looked like the clover Who lives on.  Nice.  I meant to to that. (wink, wink)
I don’t usually scrumble with rollers.
This space was too large to do it all with brushes.  By midnight my back was killing me so I finished the painting while sitting on my rolling chair.
I found a picture of a great art deco looking chair.  I drew it for my students and they started to build it.
I drew on my memory of my Grandpa White and taught the students how to upholster the chair.
We added the chair to a platform with gold, copper, and silver palm trees for Mazie’s Palm Beach scene.  One of my favorite creations was the bathtub.  We used broken dvd’s to make a mother-of-pearl look that turned out stunning!
We sent in a recording to the State Thespian Office and entered the show for competition.  That meant we had to carefully take the set apart and store it until we find out if it goes to the State Convention in late March.  It’s a long shot, since we have only been a Thespian Troupe for 1 year… But I loved how the show turned out.  In addition to the set, I was also responsible for the light and sound design.  The light design was fun.  I know what I have and how to use it best in my space.  The sound was challenging because I was working with a new sound board.  Listening to the recording I am impressed with how it turned out.
I think the best part of the show was working with my daughter again.  There are very few opportunities left that have my daughter Hannah working with me and giving me the opportunity to see her perform on stage… a place where here heart lies.  Next year she will be off to college and watching her perform will be a thing of the past for me since I don’t like to travel.

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