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November 11, 2010 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-11

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weekend
essentials
Nov. 11to Nov.14
ON DISPLAY
Michigan was once a
hub of American manu-
facturing and still is a
thriving cultural hotbed.
So this Saturday or
Sunday, why not come
out between 12 and 4
p.m. to the Museum
on Main Street and
celebrate the area's
storied past? The self-
guided exhibit will
present historic area
industries and cultur-
ally significant items,
like animator Joe
Hale's Disney artistry.
Admission is free.
AT THE MIC
This Saturday, the
Women's Glee Club
will perform with Dul-
cissima, a women's
choir at Plymouth-
Canton High School.
The Club's fall concert
will begin at 8 p.m. and
feature pieces by Felix
Mendelssohn-Bar-
tholdy, Srul Irving Glick
and Elizabeth Alexan-
der. Tickets from $5
with a student ID.

AP Pek

By Sharon Jacobs, AssistantArts Editor

nstage at the Power Center, three of the
starring actors in the upcoming Music, The-
atre & Dance opera "The Elixir of Love"
rehearse a scene. Dressed in plainclothes in
front of an imitation-stucco archway, they
belt out the same several measures repeatedly. A guy twirls
a girl once, twice, then attempts to sit her on his knee -
which she misses. The three actors laugh, and the director
sitting in the center of the audience chuckles and explains
the proper motion.
Behind a curtain stage right, stage manager Michelle Elias,
an MT&D senior, watches the goings-on from a small col-
ored TV screen. Next to it is another screen, this one in black
and white and displaying the pit, currently home to just one
rehearsal pianist. It's the second night oftech week for "Elix-
ir," and, though the chorus has yet to arrive and the stage is
sparsely populated, behind the arch is another drama.
Murmuring into her headset, Elias communicates with her
assistant stage managers and the sound and lighting techni-
cians over two radio channels while viewing the onstage
action. She cues members of the run crew - the backstage
hands in charge of sets and props during a show's run - non-
verbally, using a system of switches and lights.
"I can flip the switch on, and that's the warning, and flip-
ping the switch off is the 'go.' And so when the light goes off,
you pull the rail," Elias said. Backstage, the "rail" refers to the
system of ropes that raise set pieces, lights or curtains.
Elias will be behind the scenes at every performance of
"Elixir of Love," as she has done as stage manager for several
other plays and musicals before it.
"I'm there through the entire process, from beginning to
end," she said. And by this point, though an audience has yet
to see it, Elias's show is nearing the end of a long road to its
debut.
"What you see onstage, that's the design, that's the final
product," said MT&D senior Corey Lubowich, who designed
the costumes and scenery for StarKid Potter's "A Very Potter
Sequel" in May.
Though they themselves remain invisible to most theater-
goers, designers have labored over every aspect of how their
shows will look, and opening night represents the culmina-
tion of their jobs.
"It's the process of it being in your head, to being in the
shop, to being in the rehearsal room and then being onstage,"
said MT&D senior Shawn McCulloch, the costume designer
for last month's musical "Into the Woods."
And for Elias, Lubowich, McCulloch and the students
behind the scenes of any 'U' production, this process of
bringing the script to life begins months before the show
opens its doors.
Creating a world
Being picked to design a mainstage production at the Uni-
versity is no small honor.

"Within the University shows, you work your way up to
actually designing a mainstage," Lubowich said. "You work
backstage, you work in the shop, you sort of get assignments
along the way before you're allowed."
Student mainstage designers tend to come from the MT&D
Design & Production program, and their classes are often
like mock productions.
"You do it all hypothetically," McCulloch said. in his
courses, he designs the costumes for made-up shows and
then finds the sample fabrics that best match each character.
But of course, classwork for designers is very different
from the real thing. Before "Into the Woods," McCulloch was
used to having a professor constantly looking over his shoul-
der. For that show, he was on his own to design after meeting
I like the more
organizational side
of it, and I get to play
make belieVe every
day.... It's a job where
you are paid to create
fake worlds and
entertain people.
-Michelle Elias, MT&D senior
with his director in April to discuss the basics.
Fifth-year MT&D senior Adam McCarthy, the lighting
designer for "Pentecost," also started out by meeting with his
director. But from the very beginning, lighting is defined and
differentiated from scenic and costume design by its lack of
physicality.
"The director and I had a couple of meetings (and) talked
about more, sort of, the abstract qualities of the show - what
it's about, how it 'works,' " McCarthy said.
"In particular with the school productions, what gener-
ally happens is the scenic designer and the costume designer
meet with the director far before the lighting designer and
sort of create the world, the theme and the concept of the
play," he added. "And at that point the lighting designer sort
of responds to their work."
Since "Pentecost" was set in an abandoned Eastern Euro-

pean church, McCarthy spent his summer doing research on
churches, but he didn't start making actual designs until fur-
ther along in the process.
McCulloch had to approach the physical costume designs
for "Into the Woods" much earlier, but his work still began
with a mad hunt for information.
"A lot of designers, when they design a show, they don't
wantto see other productions," he admitted. "With this show,
there's a DVD recording of when Bernadette Peters was in it
on Broadway, in the original production, and I saw that years
ago. SoI kind of owned up to the fact that I've already seen it
and know about it, soI looked at lots of productions."
Once McCulloch had finished his research - which
included learning the traditional garb of the princes and
peasants who roam the woods of his show - he began to
render his ideas. A costume designer's renderings are tra-
ditionally done in watercolor on paper but nowadays can
extend into any medium, including Photoshop. A rendering
is a detailed portrait, with the subject standing in a typical
pose and dressed in the most accurately colored and textured
clothing possible.
"I really tried to have fun with the stepmother and stepsis-
ters," McCulloch said. "The two princes are pretty directly
related to research of Prince Albert and Napoleon...(but) I've
never seen a wolf that looked like mine."
McCulloch's Wolf wore fur-covered pants but was bare
from the waist up. Since designers often make their render-
ings before a show is cast, making sure the ors fit the gen-
eral concept behind their costumes is important.
"One of the things I talked (about)with the director very
early on was that he wanted the Wolf to be dangerous yet
sexy," he said. "So one of the big concerns with the Wolf was,
do we have a guy who has the goods? And we did."
For Lubowich, specific actors weren't a concern when con-
ceptualizing the set design for "A Very Potter Sequel." Work-
ing on an adaptation of a well known series, he had his show's
underlyingmaterial right in front of him, and the "Harry Pot-
ter" books themselves were his inspiration: The set for the
sequel was based on the American cover of the first book.
"I really loved the art style of the cover of the book, so I
wanted to do something inspired by that," Lubowich said.
From rendering to reality +
As the costumes and set are laid out, the props come in.
Elena Garcia, a junior in MT&D and LSA, was hired as co-
propsmaster for MUSKET's upcoming production of "Aida"
and immediately met with both the set designer and direc-
tor. Garcia's work is less about artistic creation and more
about realization of what the designers and directors want.
"It's their vision for the show that it's our job to make
happen in the way that is the most artistic and the most in
line with their vision that we can," she said of taking on
props.
See BEHIND THE SCENES, Page 3B

FILM
Chaos reigns in Lars
von Trier's 2009 film
"Antichrist," playing
Saturday at midnight
at the State Theater.
The film stars Willem
Dafoe and Charlotte
Gainsbourg as a couple
who, after the death
of their child, take
exile in a cabin in the
woods. That's when
the supremely crazy
shit starts. A fox starts
talking, the leads have
extremely graphic
sex and there's sexual
violence so disgusting
it has become legend-
ary in film circles.
Not exactly whole-
some family fun.
CONCERT
Head down to The
Ark tonight to see
singer-songwriter and
Dolly Parton-enthusi-
ast Mindy Smith per-
form. Been hunting
for the perfect version
of Dolly's "Jolene"?
Then look no further.
Sure, no one can
replace the queen of
country herself, but
Smith comes pretty
damn close. Move
over, Taylor Swift.
Oh, and don't worry,
there will be banjos.
Tickets from $20;
doors open at 7:30.

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