In creating the town square of Verona it was clear that the set had to be non-specific as to place. To establish place we would use a prop, in this case the tomb. As ingenious as the tomb release catches were, it was in the end too heavy to lift with both bodies on it. The idea was to roll it forward in the last moments of the ballet.
There were two of us who worked these designs. The other artist was Paul Pyers. The garden wall here is flown. The building is a good example of something we perfected to get as many kids involved in the production as we could. Its called "painting by numbers" and thats the technique we used. Up to 50 students at a time would work on a backdrop. They are all ply cutouts suspended on wire and flown
Behind the preents a long box held the tree, which had to grow. To. 30feet. Then. Disappear.
This gorgeous tropical sunset was designed and painted by Paul Pyers. It was really difficult to have Anna appear from below decks, which explains the junk on stage. This is at the rehearsal stage.
Transporting this to the theatre meant that it had to be both painted and constructed to fit together rapidly and easily. The whole thing is on wheels. Despite the illusion, it is actually a continuous flat surface.
At this stage black plastic still had to be stapled to the back of the flats to prevent light coming through. The fretwork is corrugated black plastic. At the front of the tableau is an actual water fountain which had potplants. Sounds great, but it was too noisy for the scene and we couldnt use it. For this production I also designed the costumes.
This backdrop consisted of 8 sections. Each section was actually square, so that 4 backdrops could be presented without facilities to fly. Sets have to be brought on stage in seconds, assembled, used then removed ready for the next act. Each section was on nylon slides, to make them easier to turn by one person. It took 8 crew to change scenes, but it took seconds.
In the actual production we didnt use the column bases and capitals.All that marbling took me back to my Jackson Pollock days. Thats all it was. Spashes of colour and glazes over to establish layers of transparency, then finishing off with simple light and dark for cracks and projections. But the cumulative effect was magic.I should add that scraping with a squeegee before the spashes dried was critical to the illusion. Because the ply was absorbent, it would come up white even though darker colour was dragged over it.
The backdrop was stretched and undercoated before I began work. Working in a professional stage studio was such a learning experience. This backdrop was to continue using the successful solution to creating a "see-through" so that the orchestra was visible behind the dancers. Once again we could only use a generic,non specific scene. This one had to represent the house, the snow queens realm, and the house of sweets.
The Nutcracker at the Hamer Hall. I ended up doing a chocolate box.
These were so much fun to paint. As usual I had to somehow get three scenes into one backdrop. AAANND see the orchestra behind the drop!
Ricardo suggested a screen with some sort of rubber that the hidden dancers could step through to magically appear. The latex sheet took the paint remarkably well, and survived repeated stretching. The reverse side looked ok too,sort of like a stained glass window.
The scene shows the set is flown in several layers. One of the great results is the way silhouette can be played against lit sections to create new scenes, particularly with the cyclorama. The musical was staged with a live orchestra and was partly funded by the Bicentennial Fund.
All on wheels in two sections which had to be locked. The side, which still surprises even me, is completely flat. The texture and projections are all illusions.