Theatre Thursday

Willie Wonka 

I am finally getting around to blogging about the latest set I designed.  I worked on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at Central High School.

This was a hard set… first, because I am not all that excited about the script… and second, because there are so many different scene changes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish them all.There are my solutions:

I wanted the Bucket house and the town to look gray, cold and lifeless.

I put the bucket house on two 8×8 foot rolling platforms.I usually use 1×4 to frame flats, but this time I used 2×4.  I was able to get a hold of corrugated tin for the walls. That was a major stroke of luck.  I asked parents of actors what junk they might have lying around.  Lucky me!  One parent happened to bring me 3 pieces of tin that were 20 feet long… and a rusty broken motorcycle and other rusty junk.  We cut the long pieces into smaller pieces and attached them to the wall frames.

I had the helped put them at odd angles because I wanted the house to look like it was a shanty town house.  It worked!

Then we hung junk all over the outside wall.  I was doing my best to make a junk pile on the outside.
Originally, I wanted them to move around more to change from inside the house to outside the house, but I was vetoed.  And sadly, the pictures don’t do them justice. They really did turn out to be one of my favorite pieces of all time!
My next favorite piece from this show was the boat.  I found some crazy picture of a paper fold boat on Pinterest and wanted to give it a try.  I had a small platform we put on castors.  Then we attached cardboard (not my favorite medium, but it works).  We painted it white and then attached text (a nice parent owned a vinyl printer and made vinyl letters).  Once again, I was vetoed.  The choreographer was really bothered that the boat wasn’t pink… even if it looked super pink in the lighting.  We ended up “pink” washing it.
We did have a few issues getting it to roll nice.  Let’s face it.  1000 pounds of kid is hard on small castors. More than once we needed to turn it on it’s side to work on the wheels.  In the end we got some industrial castors… and changed 2 of them to non-swivel castors.  It made it harder to turn, but it did the trick.
And this is how we moved it.  The audience never saw the black rope stretched across the floor.  My friend Scot PULLED that 1000 pounds of boat and teens across the floor.  LOL… Ahh!  The magic of theater.
My next tricky thing was the chocolate factory.  Somehow I needed to make a colorful environment that transformed into rooms.  I started with a turn table.  The turn table we build 4 years ago was a mess.  People did not build it my way.  They did it a weird way.  I had the help take it all apart and start over… my way.
I had to lube the pin.  So the thing worked smoothly!
Then we added the bridge…
covered the walls…
added a slide… 😉
Added some great color…
added an escape slide backstage… oh.. and it was removed for rotating the turn table.
made some giant 16 foot candy jars…
and we got Wonka Land!
We also made a gate that we flew in and out for entering the factory…
We made nuts out of footballs and duct tape.  I’m surprised that worked.
We had glow-in-the-dark bubbles for the floating room… and we had the stars sit on the shoulders of kids dressed in black to make them look like they were floating.
Lilli learned to do spot light too.
And these are my favorite kids… the tech kids.  Sure wish tech kids got more credit.  Let’s face it… people on stage may have tons of talent, but without the tech kids who would ever know?

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