Costuming/Makeup
The trio of heroes (l-r): Patrick, Sandy and SpongeBob  (Played by Danny Skinner, Lilli Cooper and Ethan Slater, respectively.)
The trio of heroes (l-r): Patrick, Sandy and SpongeBob (Played by Danny Skinner, Lilli Cooper and Ethan Slater, respectively.)

We dive into David Zinn’s designs to bring everyone’s favorite demospongiae to vibrant, 3D life 

Bounding with optimism, Broadway-bound The SpongeBob Musical took to the Oriental Theatre in Chicago in June for its out-of-town tryout. Based on the long-running and ever-popular Nickelodeon animated series, The SpongeBob Musical is filled with larger than life characters in the undersea city of Bikini Bottom. 

Read more: Mischief, Collision and Costumes

Costuming/Makeup
A costume from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of Head Over Heels, designed by Loren Shaw.
A costume from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of Head Over Heels, designed by Loren Shaw.

Understated or over the top, a perfect look fits the production

Coco Chanel reputedly advised taking “one thing off” before leaving the house. But what happens when you have to go onstage? How much is too much in the theatre? Is there even such a thing? And for that matter—once you have the perfect look in theatre how do you keep throughout a whole show, let alone an eight-week run? We talked to some professionals to find out the answers. 

Read more: Wonderful Extravagance

Sets, Scenery and Rigging
Beowulf Boritt’s set design for A Bronx Tale, The Musical.
Beowulf Boritt’s set design for A Bronx Tale, The Musical.

A look at the designs and philosophy of Beowulf Boritt

Scenic design is a theatrical discipline that requires vision, intelligence, and a willingness to serve the narrative without overwhelming it. That concept is becoming trickier as more and more Broadway shows attempt to emulate a Hollywood ethos of pulling out all the stops. Tony Award-winning scenic designer Beowulf Borrit zeroes in on what’s most important: the tale being told.

Read more: The Search For Simplicity

Sets, Scenery and Rigging
Scenic artist Sean Saari creates an abstract watery floor using Sculptural Arts Coating paints for a production of Wake Walking at the Greensboro College Parlor Theatre.
Scenic artist Sean Saari creates an abstract watery floor using Sculptural Arts Coating paints for a production of Wake Walking at the Greensboro College Parlor Theatre.

Expert advice for giving your stage floor a face lift that will look great and last

Painting a stage floor to match your scenic design probably seems like a no-brainer—until you actually attempt it. Why? Changing your surface color actually requires some key knowledge to get the job right. For example, did you know that using latex paint—even only on part of your job—can change the acoustics in your venue? Depending upon the depth of your stage, the color you pick can shrink the look of your backdrops and set pieces. And if you don’t know the right way to apply floor paint to a stage, hello, streaks and scratches. We asked the top pros in the business for their sage advice on how to accomplish the task like a veteran, from choosing the right paint and equipment to application tricks to maintenance and more. 

Read more: In the Paint

Sets, Scenery and Rigging
An eZ-Go workstation for programming automation set up at front of house.
An eZ-Go workstation for programming automation set up at front of house.

While machines move more scenery than ever, companies compete to make it even easier

Scenic design is the physical representation of the emotional world of a show, where the vision becomes reality. But making several hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds of scenery move like a vision is not a simple task. We reached out to leaders in the field of automation and asked them how they make automation easier—and safer—for everyone.

Read more: Commanding the Scenery

Sets, Scenery and Rigging
Dancers on the Gateway Set Rentals Show Boat set.
Dancers on the Gateway Set Rentals Show Boat set.

Rentals and low-cost effects can brighten the show

So you’re planning a production of Show Boat as your fall musical, and you know you’ve got a cast of top-quality lead singers to make the Jerome Kern score come alive and delight your audiences. The fact is, however, that you don’t have a scene shop that can build you a riverboat and gangplank. Even painted drops are a chancy endeavor at best. The answer is simpler than you might imagine. Rental and set construction companies are ready to help you take your production to the next level, while eliminating the issues of building, painting, and storing drops and set pieces for your school or theatre organization. And backdrop rental companies make new drops every year, keeping their inventory fresh and up-to-date. The companies listed here are ready to provide materials to make your next production come alive.

Read more: Take Your Production to the Next Level – Affordably

Feature
RG built this set piece and the automation that changes it from an opulent Egyptian palace into …
RG built this set piece and the automation that changes it from an opulent Egyptian palace into …

A look at Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour on Broadway

Paramour, which opened May 25, 2016 at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre, is the latest creation from Cirque du Soleil. The first Cirque show created specifically for Broadway, Paramour is a hybrid of the Cirque aesthetic of acrobatics and showmanship with the narrative and show flow of a traditional Broadway musical. Cirque shows, while all wondrous experiences, are not known for having plotlines, or as Broadway would call it, a book. 

Read more: Lights, Aerialists … And Curtain!

Feature
Verity Studios designed the drones, presented as “ensouled” lampshades in Paramour
Verity Studios designed the drones, presented as “ensouled” lampshades in Paramour

[Here's our bonus coverage of the drones in Cirque du Soleil's Paramour. For our full story on the scenic and lighting design for Paramour, click here. -ed.]

One of the most whimsical and notable of scenes in Paramour is the flying, dancing lampshades. A bit of theatrical magic accomplished with drone technology, or as the designers of these units—Verity Studios—refer to them ‘autonomous flying machines.’ Verity Studios designed, choreographed, and control the units with a proprietary control system that includes GPS locator equipment for the drones built into the show deck. “Each individual drone is controlled separately, but they create their choreography between all of them,” states Benken. “They’re not necessarily aware of each other’s position, but they’re aware of their own position, similar to other automation systems. If something gets them a little out of position, like if they get knocked or something, they know where they’re supposed to be and they’ll get back to that position. They do stay over the stage; they never go out over the audience.” There are eight drones that fly in the sequence along with several ‘understudy drones’ waiting their turn backstage. A newer technology to Broadway, care of the drones comes under the props department for this show.

Read more: Drones Fly High

Feature
An ASCAP panel critiquing the presentation of Legendale (l-r): Karey Kirkpatrick, composer/librettist of Something Rotten; Irene Mecchi, screenwriter of The Lion King and its stage adaptation; and Stephen Schwartz.
An ASCAP panel critiquing the presentation of Legendale (l-r): Karey Kirkpatrick, composer/librettist of Something Rotten; Irene Mecchi, screenwriter of The Lion King and its stage adaptation; and Stephen Schwartz.

Stephen Schwartz mentors the next generation of musical writers through his work in ASCAP’s Musical Theatre Workshops

The man who composed the music and lyrics for the iconic Broadway shows Wicked, Pippin and Godspell, not to mention the forthcoming stage adaptation of the animated film Prince of Egypt with Alan Menken, has made quite a name for himself. Stephen Schwartz has won three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards, and been nominated for six Tony Awards. He also loves to pass along his knowledge to those who could follow in his footsteps.

Read more: Giving Back Through ASCAP

Feature
Charles H. Stewart’s 18-foot-by-42-foot “Dickens Street” backdrop
Charles H. Stewart’s 18-foot-by-42-foot “Dickens Street” backdrop

In which we try to give backdrops the space they deserve

Backdrops are meant to be huge—they’re meant to be gloriously large testaments to scenic art, filling the back wall of a stage and reading to the back row of the audience. This month, we’re letting the art of the backdrop do the talking. We contacted our favorite backdrop houses and asked them to send a picture of a favorite backdrop that we could run large and a to tell us a little bit about it. 

Read more: Backdrops Bonanza!

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