design stage production

School Musical : Pippin

The Musical That Did Not Happen

Spring 2020—this phrase should be enough of an explanation as to why this musical did not move beyond rehearsals and production. Our design and production crew started in January. Our school did not have an appropriate wood shop with a safe workbench, a dust collector, or a workroom with an outlet. Based on my experience, we set up the shop outside on the ground. Students prepared a cut list and students cut in shifts due to the weather. We constructed a large number of heavy duty props for a minimal production set. The concept was to create scenes using the same props in orchestrated constructions for stairs, thrones, platforms for dancing and hiding places. The props were six large custom-constructed trunks designed to accommodate the weight and force of dancing performers and large enough for the performers to hide. We also constructed two large stackable towers to be constructed by the performers choreographed to move along with the song. The virus took away this vast amount of effort from being seen.

The prototype. Built by me, this trunk helped to verify the design plans, provide a course of instruction, and the production’s cost estimate.
This student’s maiden cut. She enjoyed using this tool to the extent that she controlled the chop saw for a large portion of the cut list.
Student working on the ribs—one of 15—for the five remaining trunks. He is set up to drill pilot holes before driving fasteners into the joints.
Recycling rope from Peter Pan, Jr., the students designed and installed handles and lid restraints. These were elements I forgot to include in my design (cheers to the students!)
A prototype for one section of a 12-foot tower to be constructed by performers while singing.
The pieces of the tower prototype.
Students worked and planned from the prototype to make the two towers. The stage crew rehearsed several times as a test to work out kinks and refine the pieces. The towers would then be wired together to support backdrop curtains—12 total—for scene changes the performers would also stage.
We made 13 breast plates in two sizes to accommodate large and small performers.
Students working on the breast plates.
Two of the final pieces before color application. Several details were added for texture for the illusion of rivets and emblems.
Testing a fit and rehearsing live changes for the performers.
Eight rivets for each of the 13 breast plates. We threaded a small gauge rope knotted to not fall out during the performance.

The students’ work was appreciated and luckily the same crew returned for the next musical I co-facilitated in Spring 2022 and the stage crew school group for the 2021-22 academic year.