Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: The classic Baltimore front stoop

If you've never seen/heard of/are familiar with the show Hairspray you might not know that the setting is in Baltimore, Maryland. Ever been there before? It's actually quite a charming place enough place and I don't say that because I lived there for about a decade before I found my way to this phase of my career and life.

Anyway, some things about Baltimore and the 60s (when the show took place) are that in that time frame, living in the city you were likely to live in a row house that was probably in a very bright color combination and your steps had to be "bright white" because it was considered to be somewhat of a status symbol so much that every Sunday (I learned this from a Baltimore native) people would be out scrubbing their steps to ensure they would be as bright and white as possible. /end painfully brief and poorly presented local history lesson

One of the major props that was used in the show was something of a mobile setting piece (I don't know what to call it) where Tracy Turnblad was supposed to perch herself for maybe even a minute and a half - seriously! That's all the time you see it for as labor intensive as it was! #facepalm - and it was supposed to look like the classic Baltimore row home front stoop.

The set builders used a very narrow flat on casters (there would be something on the reverse side that I will show you tomorrow) and then built a small staircase to imitate front door stairs. My job was to make the empty flat look as much like a front door as possible. What would have been easiest and most realistic would have been for us to just acquire a front door and just affix it to the flat (it didn't have to open) but for the minute and a half that it be seen? Well... probably a lot of money would have been spent for not much time for it to be seen. But then, when you equate time to money? Well, I spent HOURS on detailing this flat from the brick effect painting to the faux metal outer door to the awning frame that was built by the set builders to the canvas that I stapled to the frame and then stretched with gesso and then painted and trimmed to imitate a real awning? Well... *phew* I don't know. I almost would have just bought a daggone real door to save myself a little time. *shrug*

Just finished the faux brick work and old metal door that I still feel like I could have done a better job on but whatever. See the awning frame? Still needs to be canvas covered.

The awning frame is finally covered with canvas I had laying about the art room. Gessoed it with one coat so it stretched a little more nicely and then painted it orange and blue (to keep with the classic bright color palette of the Baltimore row houses) and then I trimmed the edge of the awning to make it seem like it was always supposed to be like that.

And finally it's done! And the finishing touch was faux flowers in some plastic terracotta looking pots that I gorilla glued down to the corners of the steps. Doesn't that make it look more welcoming? I would definitely want to come home to this front door for sure! And the steps got two good coats of fresh white paint to make them look crisp and clean despite the fact that the instagram effect does not show that so well.

There is another side of this flat that looks like an aerial view of Tracy's bed - this opens the show - but it's not as exciting or was as labor intensive as the front door side you see above. I will show you the bed side tomorrow.

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