Where did January go? Oh wait I know, It was flushed into memory exile courtesy of Urinetown. The Webster Theatre Guild celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011, and the show they chose to commemorate the event was Urinetown. Yep … Urinetown. This former Broadway show is filled with raw humor, uncomfortable situations, borderline offensive material, and WTG did it right. Kudos to director J. Simmons and to the rest of the production team. I have not laughed so hard in a long time, and after the way 2011 closed I needed the palette cleansing weekend. WTG newcomer Andy Cooper and I tag-teamed the Set Design and I did the Artistic Painting for the show. Big props to the entire cast for a solid production, especially those that helped with the painting and set construction. Some members of the WTG (read: Stacie and Cathy for the death scene platform) found hidden talents, and for me, it certainly was an unexpected surprise (although … “is there and other kind?”) Below are some of the photos of the set starting out with Public Amenity #9. It’s one of the dirtiest, filthiest urinals in town, and was also fun to paint. (As was the rest of the set.)
Finally. The mushrooms are done. The designs are finished. The 24th annual fundraiser for the Golisano Children’s Hospital has come to a close. The event is over. The balloons have fallen, the money has been raised. This was the largest event in recent memory for the hospital. Over 900 people joined together to celebrate one night in Wonderland. My mind and body have endured a lack of sleep not witnessed since Rebekah was a newborn. My lungs, still heavy from the contact high from the mushrooms, welcome the time to heal. It was the most rewarding design project I’ve been able to be a part of to date as a Creative Director. Large scale mushrooms, 8 in all, invites, signs, ads, and the custom deck of 52 playing cards which is a bucket list design project for me that lived up to the 20 year wait. Over 20 custom illustrations don the face and numbered cards. Carrie Perlet, the Art Director, at Brite computers was a big help in the overall execution of the playing cards. They would not have happened without her help. All the copywriting was by Robin Lohkamp and Courtney kept me on track to finish in time.
Would I do it all again? Absolutely… next year is the silver anniversary.
In the spring when my friend and fellow co-worker Courtney asked me to be involved with the Golisano Children’s Hospital Annual Fundraiser Gala I said “Sure” before really knowing what I was getting myself into. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was a very good decision. The children’s hospital is very important to her so in turn it’s important to me. We landed on the theme of Wonderland (as in Alice in Wonderland) and went right into concepting. Alice in Wonderland could be viewed as a tired concept, and my challenge was to give the gala a fresh perspective. I focused my attention around the Queen of Hearts and my interpretation on her flower found on the Queen’s face card, I did some custom illustrations for the invites and graphics, and overall am very happy with the outcome.
My theater set design background also has also come in handy. Courtney had given me the freedom to concept out the set designs for the entire night. One idea was building large scale mushrooms for the gala. So far I have made two, and hope to make a lot more. (Though I’m quickly running out of time, the gala is at the end of October.) The following pictures detail my process from start to finish for creating the large scale mushrooms.
I started with a sheet of 4’x8′ insulation foam that was cut, glued and stacked. Then carved by hand with a blade. And sanded smooth with my blocks and electric sander. Meanwhile I made the stems out of pvc pipe. Next I covered the mushrooms with an epoxy resin used in fiberglass construction. Then puddy some of the larger holes. Primed white, and finally painted with color. The large one stands over 7′ tall the small one is about 4′. Like I said. These are two of many I need to make. I had originally thought to make about 14, but in order to do that I would have needed to start last month, and well there was ceramic tile to lay, and a house to renovate. So as for the final number of mushrooms, well we’ll see how it goes.
Now Carrie and I need to finish the custom deck of 52 playing cards…
Annie. The classic story of a little girl who grows up during the depression in an orphanage hoping one day that her parents will return to save her from the mean ol’ Miss Hannigan. But in life, it seems what you want to happen is rarely was does happen. Luckily, Annie gets acquainted with Mr. Warbux, a billionaire in need of some grounding. And the rest of course is history. I was fortunate to have designed the set and did all the artistic painting for East Ridge High School’s 2010 production of Annie. Below are a few photos from the set:
This is the Mansion. It’s 40′ long and 12′ high. There are five entry points, one from each wing and three staircases. The two side staircases were existing and the large staircase in the middle was built by Paul and his crew.
I am particularly fond of the main staircase and the painted faux marble
Amber, one of the co-directors, had this neat idea to have moveable storefronts in the scene NYC. The effect was very cool. (719 is the date of my son Aaron’s birthday.)
The 40′ city skyline is created by the negative space of the silhouettes. I painted the nighttime sky. The silhouettes do the rest. (115, and 118 are the dates of my son Joey and daughter Rebekah birthday’s.)
The orphanage consisted of three existing flats that were repainted to look like old and dingy windows.
Hannigan has an office… it’s small, but it does have a kick ass bookshelf.
Here are some photos of the final sets for the Webster Theatre Guild’s 2010 production of West Side Story. I was the set designer and artistic painter for the show. Lots of hours went into the final product but I am very happy with the results. Many thanks to Mike Johnston and the cast and crew of WSS. Their help made it possible to complete these set pieces. There was a nice review by Eric Rezsnyak. in City Newpaper. You can read it here. Also, Rush Henrietta High School just used the back wall portion of the set in their production of WSS.
First up is the back wall. This was a NYC city street with two main buildings as the focal point. The stage right side was the Puerto Rico side and the stage left was the American side. Joined together by the neutral alleyway complete with strings of “white flag” laundry.
The Dress Shop was part of a two sided set piece that consisted of 2 rolling 4’x8′ platforms. One side was the Dress Shop, the other, Doc’s Drugstore.
This side was Doc’s Drugstore.
Photo credit for the below photo of Doc’s: Stacie Schroeder
This the Cellar of Doc’s
The Rumble under the stage lights. 40′ long by 12′ high.
Maria’s Bedroom. 24′ long x 8′ high.
This is my biggest venture yet in designing the graphics for the show and theatrical, set design, and artistic painting. The plans are very ambitious, and with out the help of many talented folks from the Webster Theatre Guild, including my beautiful wife Julie, they are becoming a reality.
A big thanks to Mike Johnston, he’s the WTG board president, the technical director of the show, and the one entrusted to create what I have designed.
You know that scene in Fargo where they are placing Steve Buscemi in the wood chipper? Yeah that’s what this weekend was like, but instead of Steve, it was Jokey Smurf.
The wire brush gave it all it had. R.I.P. my friend.
Painting in the cold storage facility in November is, um COLD. This is Maria’s bedroom wall. Well, part of it.
This is an early photo of the flats for the Rumble. The final size is 40′ long by 12′ high.