Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grease, 1959 - The Set Post

Well Dear Readers and Followers, here it is...
(Jan's Basement)
I do not claim to be an expert on Grease, but- I love the 1950's, I love the show, and I've been singing along with the original cast record album since I was nine. I was slightly upset when I found out we had been given, and were required to stick to the "High School" version of Grease (this is a cleaned up watered down version of the actual show) I much prefer the real and raunchier version that Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey originally penned. I have had lots of fun with this production and plan to do "Grease" again!  Early on in the design stages I set out with two goals, "Having the sets look nothing like the 1978 Movie, and 'Marty's room" was not going to be pink!)

My Project included-

-Marty's Bedroom
-Jan's Basement
 -The Flamingo Drive-In Theatre
 - Refurbishment of Greased Lightning
-Along with all set dressing and props

For this production, I wanted the sets to be more actual-to-life than poodle skirts and saddle shoes. So I tried my best to keep thing period appropriate, as well as catching to the eye. What I love about the setting being 1959 in the "earlier suburbs" of Chicago, is that everything had "happened" all the cool stuff was established and in middle class homes.
(Marty's Coral Bedroom)
Mart's room started out as my favorite, so set against pink was I that when choosing a coral paint color I went for more of a "coral orange" I must say Coral and Brown has grown on me!
Here we have My favorite fountain table, turquoise boomerang lamp with fantastic fiberglass shade, black rotary phone and lots of other goodies!
(The vintage movie posters were a Kansas trip find.)
(The 'Annie Get Your Gun' poster is direct homage to
 the wildly successful production we did last season!)

(Notice the color difference between the pink radio, and the coral walls)
I know the odds of a teenage girl having her own television set in her room in 1959 are slight, but lets pretend that Marty's father owns a used car dealership... yeah, that's it.
The basement set, in the end beat out the bedroom for my favorite set. (I'm sure it has nothing to do with all of my furniture being in it.) In fact this set almost didn't happen. But thanks friend Bryson's building skills, and Friend Austins help painting it all came together just in time.
Even though this is a "cleaned up" version of Grease I made the argument that ANY 1950's middle class family with a somewhat finished basement had a wet bar in it. So the compromise was "cokes" instead of cocktails, (Personally all this set was missing was a case of Schlitz beer!)
I love that my couch is in Grease! Haha I also feel that  while set has a more masculine feel, it is not overly so. A nice balance I think.
("Local College" pennants for a little period accurate decorating.)
(I love this clock! A Missouri find!)
In the script, Danny and Sandy go on a date to "The Moonlight Drive-In Theater" but how could I resist?! The Director agreed to change the name to "The Flamingo Drive-In Theater" and I happily hauled the sign boards home from the Casablanca. I added some grass to camouflage the supports, along with a weathered "Exit" sign (to signify the car being on the back row.) 
(First step, painted a piece of wood as a black and white exit sign)
(Second step, create "rust" by distressing with a sponge and red paint.)
When the show was last staged in 2010 The cast ripped apart and converted a 1995 Toyota pick up truck into a "convertible" for Grease lightning.
(As it was, left from the 2010 production)
Not wanting to present the same car as the last time they did the show, Greaser lightning underwent a paint job. Having already used red as the "cool" color It came down to either a new black paint job, or Turquoise...
(After two coats of spray primer.)
To avoid streaky brush strokes, the car had to be painted with spray paint, it took nearly $45.00 worth to get the finished look of  an auto paint job.
After applying four coats of Krylon's "Ocean Breeze Blue" (Turquoise) the paint job was looking pretty good!
After two days of letting the paint dry and cure, I reverse taped the cars flames to be able to spray them white. I had pitched and played with idea of the cars flames being a base color of white and having silver in the flames.
It's hard to see in this picture, but I couldn't get the silver spray paint consistent enough to create shading. It looked more like the car had been graffiti-ed vs a custom paint job. So in the end I opted for a white base with black detailing.
(It was more exciting in person!)
Add on a Chrystler grill, a Chevy grill plate, lamps for head lights, with painted white all tires and REAL "moon" hubcaps and here you have....
With the lights, adrenaline, and music blaring this became the coolest thing on four (er- two wheels) Greased Lightning!

I loved designing and dressing these sets. Its no big secret that the 1950's are my favorite time to recreate. While I got to use a lot of my "A-list" pieces on these sets I tried to retain a "real to life" feel v.s. a more nostalgic pink/turquoise/checker board floors/ jukebox/ "Happy Days" set and we received praise in the review for just that!



Daktari said...

Great work! Looks spectacular. I agree with you about the historical accuracy of the tv set, though it is a nice period piece.

I thought those white modular shelves were more a product of the 70s.

Oh well. It's a stage play. The sets looks fabulous! Way to go!

Mick said...

Hi there! Thanks for your nice comments. Those shelves are from the 1950's and were originally black! (I foolishly painted them white some years ago.) I had to hang them at a weird angle to fill up wall space, but when hung correctly they look very mid-50's early 60's.

JessicaLea Texas Kitsch said...

Such a fun show!! The set looks amazing as always, Good Job Mick!!

Jordan Campagna said...

There was a TV in the movie! :P

Jim said...

Hi Mick! Good choice with the coral! Seems to 'ground' the set. I agree that those shelves are late 50's early 60' my family have a set of them!....filled with nic-knacks!
Holy cow, what a lot of work you have done. But that is what you do and do so well. Nice job!

Welcome to DeluxeVille said...

Wow! Awesome job!

Zootsuitmama said...

Great sets Mick! I spy my Comedy gravel mask picture in there! It's famous now!!

Retro Keith said...

if someone runs up on stage and steals the bedspread, it was me :)

DearHelenHartman said...

You did a great job! Fun to stare at the sets to see the fab 50s stuff.

Witchcrafted Life said...

Seriously spectacular work! Grease (the movie) was one of my earliest forays into the world of the 1950s (I'm sure I watched that film at least 50 times, if not more, as a child) and both the stage and screen versions have always remained firm favourites over the years. I wish I could see this production in person and give your prop work the standing ovation it deserves!

♥ Jessica

Amber Von Felts said...

Wow, I can't believe that you guys have the front of a car! These sets look amazing! You are a master!

Dana@Mid2Mod said...

This is fantastic! I love everything about it, especially the Flamingo Drive-In sign. I've seen that in person!!! Great job, Mick.