Friday, March 23, 2012

Set Design: The scenes of the sights of The Sound of Music

It's been just less than a week since the production for Sound of Music closed and the pictures you see below are all that is left of the set. As it is par for the course of things around here, the set is taken apart/down and disposed of (or stored in the case of certain pieces being able to be used again) immediately following the last show of the production's run. 

I have yet to be a part of the disassembling of any of the sets I have helped design and produce because doing that requires me to come to the last show of the run. I usually go to one of the first showings for two reasons - 1) I don't want to be a part of the "calling out" for thank yous where the cast/crew is asked to come up on the stage and be spotlighted and 2) I think it would be kind of traumatic for me to be a part of the tearing a part of the set and I would just rather not be a part of it. (Seriously.)

Anyway, here are some of the pictures I took for portfolio purposes - both for my own and for some of the students who really took the initiative to be a part of the set painting...

One single sophomore student did the majority of the mountain range work. The pine trees at the base of the mountains were done collectively by all of the visual art classes leading up to opening night.

A view of the whole mountain range taken from the audience.

Standing on the stage and looking left of the mountain range.

Standing on the stage and looking right.

Standing on the stage and looking at the center portion of the mountains.

The modular/folding archways in front of the mountain ranges were meant to suggest the inside of the Von Trapp family's  estate. 

This is a closer view of the back wall that is the staircase of the Von Trapp family estate. The columns are cardboard and wood and painted to imitate marble.

These are large arches that are supposed to represent the abbey of the nunnery . They were  texture painted to resemble brick/stone using sea sponges and dry brush technique.

Would love to take the credit for this but all I did was order the material for it. My lovely colleague at the lower school made four different faux stained glass windows collaboratively with a 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 5th grade class. They used an acrylic sheet called Dura-lar for the support. After they finished designing/painting it, we cut it out and then stapled it to the wood frame. We also covered it with matte mod podge to reduce the glare that occurred when the stage lights hit it.

A small stained glass window that was supposed to be seen in Mother Superior's abbey office.

I had such a good time doing the artistic direction for this production (as I always do no matter how much I fuss about it) and I learned so much! My biggest lesson was this: the students I work with can and should be saddled with an immense more responsibility than I ever permit myself to give them. Seriously! The student leadership I saw emerge and the ridiculous TALENT (more than anything) was just unfathomable at times. 

This production was my third one being a part of added to Godspell and the Diary of Anne Frank. Not sure what next year's big plans will be but I hear it might be Hairspray. We'll see!


  1. Beautiful set. Do you happen to still have your order list and perhaps plans for what you created. Our high school is doing that production this year and I would like to recreate your ideas with your blessings. Thanks

    1. Hi Gary! I just sent you an email at your posted address in order to try and arrange for me to help you out with whatever documentation I can get from my department head. So glad that you are doing this show too! It is a very fun show to be a part of.

  2. Beautiful set design! How did you make the modular/folding archways for the Von Trapp house interior?

    1. From what I recall (it's been a while!) They were made as two panels that connected with a hinged joint and then we simply painted them for effect and specific design purposes. It might be hard to see in the pictures but they were very VERY tall and hard to move around. In order to assist the stage and scene change team so that they could move them both efficiently and safely, the bottom of each of them was heavily lined with felt so that they could slide across the floor. Also, we figured out the positioning of the two panels (when they were opened at the hinge) and the most stable angle to open them at and we taped out that angle on the floor (both for visual guidance and quick and intentional placement) so that there would be no question of how and where to place them when they were on stage.


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