Backstage Blog

The Set Design of Cabaret: Part 1

Cabaret as an Alcoholic Beverage

Last year, Sean Murray asked me to work with him on Sweeney Todd.  It was our seventh production together.  Working with Sean and co-director James Vasquez was

possibly the most freeing experience that can be asked of a designer for a musical theatre setting: we threw out all preconceived notions of the staging, we started from scratch and found our own voices in the piece.

And I discovered that doing a musical on a thrust stage means that, despite the amount of decorative flourishes I may apply to a setting, my eye always becomes inexorably riveted to the performer.  Out there on that thrust surrounded on three sides by a rapt audience, and commanding a story.  In one breathless moment, I can forget about everything I’ve been hired or trained to do as a designer, as I sit back and watch energy flow. Continue reading

Sweeney Todd Music Rehearsals

We celebrated the opening of Sweeney Todd last night.  The performers were all outstanding, and the audience responded with a standing ovation.  Afterwards we enjoyed a wonderful post show party hosted by gracious folks at Casa Guadalajara.

Over the past couple of weeks I have caught glimpses of the show in rehearsals, and watched as the entire collection of artists, one of the largest we’ve ever assembled at Cygnet, have come together to create an exciting evening of theatre.  During that time I managed to also capture some video of the rehearsals, including the first time the cast and band rehearsed together, and the first rehearsals on the completed stage.  Please enjoy this peek behind the scenes.

A Sweeney Blood Rehearsal

In order to test drive the special blood effects designed by resident artists Peter Herman, Shirley Pierson, Bonnie and Nick Durben for our production of Sweeney Todd, we held a little blood-letting one night at our rehearsal space.

We have two different methods of producing the Grand Guignol style blood moments in the show, depending on which character is being killed at which moment. Without trying to give away too much of the mystery, it took a little trial and error to much hilariously ghoulish laughter from the actors! Check out the video James Vasquez shot of our experiments. It’s a little gory, but a lot of fun.

Check the teaser on youtube!