Theatre Thursday

If You Build It They Will Come – Addams Family Set

A week ago we closed Addams Family the Musical at Central High School.  What a fun show!

We started rehearsals a week before school started.  We also started building the set on the weekends.  My building team consisted of the kids in the cast, the kids in my tech theater class and a couple dads every once in a while.  Let me tell you, these kids did a remarkable job.  And to think this was the first experience many of them have had with tools!

We started by legging platforms at an 8 foot height.

We framed in window frames and door frames on the bottom part of the structure.  We installed 1×2 lumber at the base of the structure so we would have something to attach the cardboard sides to… then we wrapped the structure with 4×8 sheets of cardboard, and taped the seams to create “dutchmen” seams.

While we were working on the main structure some kids painted stock flats that would later become walls…

… created props…

… tombstones…

… and worked on creating wagons for the beds… the bench… a large picture frame that would fly… a crypt/torture chamber… and… 2 6×2 foot tables for the dining room.

These kids worked hard and learned to us the compound miter saw, drivers, chalk lines, measuring tools, levels, ratchets, circular saws, jig saws, hand staplers, drills, etc…

Things moved along.

Then we added the flats I had in stock on the upper deck to create archways, window frames and a false black back wall.

Meanwhile, I put my friend John Hatch and a couple dads along with the kids to work building 2 giant rolling staircases.

Soon it was time to paint.  I went with a gray scale pallet because the director and I wanted to feature the characters… and reflect the cartoon panel origins of the Addams Family story.  Once we had applied a base coat we used sea sponges and sea sponge rollers to create a textured look.  We added trim and painted that as well.

Then we painted the floor.


You can read more about it here: A How-to – Painting a Large Scale Design on a Stage Floor

And we built and added these cool flexible ship stairs.

You can read more about how we built these stairs here: Building Flexible Ship Stairs for Escape Stairs

Meanwhile, my tech theater class made all the ghost trees.  We started by gluing 4×8 sheets of cardboard together with wood glue.  Then I had the students “design” the look of their tree before using a box knife to cut out their tree designs.

Once the students had cut out their trees, I had them tape the edges before painting the trees.  I also had them practice their building skills by building a simple stage jack and attach the “jack” to their trees.  then, I had the students use the skills they had learned in the scenic painting unit of class to paint their trees.

Then it was time to work on some lighting.  For this show I used some fun up lighting, side lighting, a strobe, a black light cannon, and I even hung a working chandelier.

Eventually we came down to the finishing touches by adding cobwebs, skulls, and other creepy things to the set.

Well… the show was a hit!  We had near sold out houses.   I was able to stay under $900 for the set costs.  The show made enough money in ticket sales to pay for it’self and give us seed money for our next production.

I’ll right next week about the rehearsals and the show as a whole.  I just wanted to give a a little taste of what it is like to build a show on the scale of “Wow!  That’s impressive.”  All with students!  My students rock!  Just saying….

You may also enjoy the following blog posts:

A Chorus of Power

Theatre Rules of Engagement

Stage Fright is Really… But Can Be Controlled


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