Monday, January 24, 2011

'A Lovely Night', Our Cinderella Story...

 Im so glad that "Cinderella" was my first officially "hired" show, the biggest challenge it presented me were those fateful words ...
" Once Upon A Time..."
How does one define a statement used to make the story versatile to every age and generation? Research. After quite a bit of It I found out that the story we know and love about a girl with a glass slipper, fairy Godmother, and pumpkin carriage was penned in 1697 (remember that it's important) Instead of being straight laced to the 1600's I used a combination of  1600's, The 1950 Animated Disney Film, and a little of my own Magic.
Our story begins, two weeks before opening night...
 Until now sets for the Wichita have always been good, but more of a "Back burner project" I plan to up the quality. The first night I went to rehearsals for the show I was simi-horrified to find that almost half of the furniture from "It's A Wonderful Life" was going to be used for Cinderella. Uh-uh NO GO.  Thus began my "1 & 2 rule" ( If we use a recognizable piece in one show it isn't reused for two more.)  In a perfect world, I would have had loads of Louis the XIV furnishings all around. However, since that stuff is so expensive, it was time to crack out the gold spray paint.
(1980's rattan couch before, simi-passable Louis XIV Settee after)
 This started a new rule for me If I found something up on the third floor that wasn't "sacred" and If been painted once its subject to be painted again. I did this on several pieces,
Another fine example of gold spray paint! I love this chair it actually looks pretty close to the real Louis XIV stuff except it was made in 1979 haha. Now that we had a few pieces of never before seen furniture we were ready to start creating. My projects for this show included. 

Cinderella's House ( inside and out, living room & kitchen)
The Palace Ballroom
A room inside the Palace

Sounds easy right? HA! I decided the key to this set was going to be attention to detail  and very little clutter.  My team and I started on the "step sisters" side of the house painting the walls Valspars "Emerald Isle Green"  taking inspiration from lyrics in the song "In my Own Little Corner"

"I am in the royal palace, of all places
I am chatting with the prince and king and queen
and the color on my two stepsister's faces
is a queer sort of sour apple green ..."

  Can you see the three dragon faces in the iron work?  Could it be the step mother and 2 ugly stepsisters?! Next we painted this cabinet with a base coat of white, we were again trying to make it look fancy on a budget  and friend Holly did a spectacular job!
 Add some windows, a floor to ceiling wainscott and 1x6 crown molding a viola you have a chateau in France...
 The next undertaking was Cinderella's Kitchen, It was mostly just paint effects I used a peach base coat color on the walls...
then gave it a stucco effect by dry sponging a lighter brown over it until I got the desired effect. after the walls and fire place hearth were painted I got to do what I'm best at and dress the area! 
 My favortie part of the kitchen was what I called "The transition wall"  because 3/4's of the house was painted green but the closer you got to Cinderellas kitchen the more the green fancy paint and molding fell into disrepair, you can see a rip in the wall paper and the plaster board is showing through the wall.. The Joke was that since the step sisters didn't care about Cinderella that part of the house just went unkempt.  In fact if you look closely at the kitchen picture above you'll notice the crown molding just stops suddenly and over hangs the wall to boot. It was my goal to make Cinderella's kitchen the more desirable place to be in the house, while the green 'Salon' is fit for the stepsisters, the kitchen is by far the more warm and welcoming space. Put it all together and ta-da! When the lights went out and the crew opened up the sets to the house an audience wide gasp swept across the room, and that dear friends is the sound of accomplishment.
 Both sides of the house close up to make the village square.
 (The address on Cinderella's house MDCXCVII - is the year 1697 in Roman Numerals, told you it was important)
However, even thought the humble home of Cinderella was complete, my job was not. The Ballroom is provably my favorite over all on the set. My team and I started by making the Ominous clock  it measures six feet by six feet and hangs dead center on the back wall.
Next up was the grand staircase, to make it regal I went with stage painting the whole set white and then "marbling" the entire thing with dry brush gray & brown.
(base coat white)
(gray marbling first done with a kitchen sponge)
(lightly detail the brown with grey using a sponge)
Paint in red  carpet for the stairs and  you have a ballroom fit for the King and Queen of France! I based my designs for the ballroom of the actual "Hall of Mirriors" in France that was built around  1678.
 (My 'Hall of Mirrors' )
 The last project on my list was a tiny scene in the Palace between the King and Queen, for this I pulled a vanity I had out of storage because it had the flour-delis carved on the top of the mirror. 
Told in pictures I know it doesn't look like much but SO much work went into this I couldn't have been able to do it with out my amazing team! Along with all the cast that came in and helped paint or build!
 (The Team! Mary, Bryson, Patricia, Holly, Myself & Sheldon)
Also special thanks to  Larry, Joy, Amy, Cameron, Margaret, Amanda, Chris and everyone else involved!
So Ladies and Gents, one show down seven more to go! It just go to show that 'Impossible things are happening every day'.

 -The End-



1950s Atomic Ranch House said...

Fantastic! You put so much hard work into it and it looks great!

Jim said...


jamie@midcenturymania said...

Wow mick! They are so lucky to have you! You did a fabulous job. Standing ovation to you and your team.

Amber Von Felts said...

A+++ Great work!

JavaBeanRush said...

Again, your narrative and photos make me feel as if I'm there!

I love the sour apple green walls!

The transition wall with all the expensive stuff just stopping abruptly at Cinderella's little corner reminds me of a similar scene in Cinderfella, starring Jerry Lewis. Funny stuff (and exactly what the evil stepsisters would do to poor Cindy).

That gold-painted futon is perfect. Love the effect that the swirls of brown and gray give to the stairs from a distance.

I was just thinking the other day how I love it when people in the arts insert lots of details, details that may largely go unnoticed , but add immeasurably to the entire effect.

Should someone record these productions and play it back, these details are one more thing to look forward to in addition to the performances.

I'm so glad that you were able to glean some appreciation from the audience.

Zootsuitmama said...

Great job-you look like you are having the time of your life! Zootsuitmama

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, how awesome! And I just love the painting done to the front of the white cabinet.