Monday, August 27, 2012

Next to Normal

Our current production, Next to Normal, is by far my favorite of the season! A fairly recent musical, N2N tells the story of a family who works their way through mental problems displayed by one family member, and how that issue affects the entire family. It does an incredible job of addressing what modern medical and therapy practices can do and also explores the fears that many people have about loss, grief, middle-class living, familial relationships, and traumatic events. Andrea Burns stars in this moving production directed by Tracy Brigden.

The Hangar's N2N is slightly different than the original, with a fascinating new scenic design by Anne Mundell that fits the height constraints of our space nicely.
Lighting Design: Matt Richards
I really enjoyed building and watching this show. Check out my previous post for more information about the build process and load-in for Next to Normal. Ticket information, calendar, and more can be found at the Hangar website.
Photo Credit: Rachel Philipson, Hangar website

Photo Credit: Rachel Philipson, Hangar website

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Building Next to Normal

The past few weeks have been busy at the Hangar Theater! We opened Full Gallop, a one-woman show about Diana Vreeland (founder of Vogue magazine) on August 3rd and it ran for just over a week. Dee Hoty kept audiences riveted with Vreeland's funny and interesting revelations.

The set for Full Gallop was relatively simple for us. The entire show took place in an upscale apartment, which the designer Michael Krass chose to represent with a giant swoop of red set paper instead of walls, as well as with furniture and elaborate dressings and rugs. The real challenge was for stage management, who had to strike the set for the children's show every week.

While Full Gallop was performing, we started building for Next to Normal. This was another large production with a workload similar to Lend Me A Tenor or Titanic, but it combined woodworking and steel. We have all been excited about this show since it is very new and also the initial design drawings looked amazing. Anne Mundell designed the world of Next to Normal with a series of platforms and stairs flanked by three houses of various sizes, hanging upside down. The entire set is encased in drops and flats of clouds.

Parts of the set during load-in
We had a lot to build in a shorter time than usual (since Full Gallop had a shorter run of performances than the other mainstage productions). We started with the houses, since they are unusually shaped flats and paints needed plenty of time to work on them. I cut out all of the lauan facing one afternoon, which was a fun project. Framing the pieces with 1x3 was less fun, since the houses are such strange shapes and need to be supported unusually for how they are hung, but we got it done.

Other projects included steel platforms and supports, steel staircases and finished lids for each stair (I worked on those for a long time), hanging the cloud drop and masking flats. During this changeover, I got moved to electrics, so I worked on a set of double-decker trunions for the ground row of lights in preparation.A carp-elecs swing position is my ideal anyway, so this change wasn't unhappy for me.

Stair lids: 3/4"plywood with masonite facing

Trunions-- the black pieces on either side supporting the long strip of lights
This was a different changeover than usual for me. Having worked primarily in electrics and stage management before, I was ready for the challenge of switching departments and found I could make myself very useful to our young ME and electrics crew. It was a pleasure working with Matt Richards, the lighting designer, and Felicia Hall, the lighting design fellowship and Matt's assistant on Next to Normal. The changeover/tech week presented plenty of challenges, however, and I learned a lot about management and preparation, and infectious attitudes.

Some load-in photos: 
Nia & Cecilia installing the stair lids

Boom pipe and masking flats off SL...this pipe was later repositioned elsewhere.

Hanging the first house!

Focusing lights

I will post more photos and my review of the show soon! Thank you for reading!