Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Set Design Begins

Well, its that time of year...the middle school musical goes into production. Time to make Willy Wonka Jr. come to life. We did auditions before Christmas break and rehearsals are now in full swing. The kids are mostly off script and really putting a lot of effort into blocking and their acting skills. As that continues, the adults begin to really focus on the stage and technical aspects of the show. How hard can a middle school musical be? Slap a little paint on a tarp, string it along the back wall of the stage...drop a microphone or two from the ceiling and shine a couple of shop lights up at their pretty little faces. Right? Nope, not here. There are EXPECTATIONS. We are so very fortunate to have way more than that at our disposal. We run a profit every year and reinvest into the stage. Every year it gets bigger and better. We have the ability technically to put on a production that is of a higher caliber than most of the area high schools. So, the next 6 weeks I will be focused on the set, the props and the tech (lights, sound, special effects). I'm in charge of the scenic design, the props for the set and actors and the lighting scheme design. Hubby gets the sound, and special effects. Of coarse, there are others that are art of the production team, and they have a laundry list of responsibilities too. And we always stick our noses in each others' business.

Today, I thought I would share some of the images that are inspiring the look that I will be creating, and sharing with you, over the next few weeks. First, let me preface to say that Walt Disney is my hero. His vision and imagination are something to truly admire. While Disney did not do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harper Goff, one of the designers that worked with Disney on The Jungle Cruise River Boats, the path of the river and the Golden Horseshoe Saloon (all of Disneyland fame) was the set designer for the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Oooh, I forgot, much of Main Street USA is his design as well. I'm in darned good company and cannot hope to compete. But, I want to be sure and do it justice. I will have my renderings for you over the next couple of days, but for now, here are some of the more memorable images that are shaping my design. 

This is the Journey to the Center of the Earth Terravator in Tokyo Disneyland. I love the steampunk feel and see this bit of inspiration shaping the outside of the factory. Keep in mind that we are modernizing the play just a bit to better relate to today's audiences, but still want to keep the original ambiance. 

Of coarse, the inside of the factory I see looking something like the original. I don't have the space to do a flowing river of chocolate or the maze of pipes, but the back wall that will be seen as we travel through each factory room will look much like Harper's original. I want it to be immediately recognizable. Big, multipaned windows, the aged brick wall...

But, before you get to see the inside of the factory, everyone must enter through Wonka's front gates. Once the gates are opened the backside of them will help create the factory, specifically the backdrops to the Chocolate smelting room (here comes the pipes) and, on the other side, the Choco Vision Room where we shrink Mike Teevee. They will be standing guard until then, reminding all that the factory is not open to all. 

Since my gates will actually be solid, I thought I would paint the factory as the background and create the gates with colored card stock...we shall see what time allows. Maybe I will paint the gates and do just the large W that will be emblazoned on the front of the gates this way...

I see Charlie's mom in front of this fireplace cooking their cabbage stew and the bed with both sets of grandparents right in front of it. Minimal utensils, everything utilitarian except for one beautiful keepsake on the mantel. Something from better times. Clean, but worn out, well used, past its prime. Where the inside of the factory will be bright and colorful, the Bucket Shack will be dark and dingy.

If you could recreate Wonka's world, how would you see it?

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