Posts Tagged With: Musical

The revolving door spins no more.

Hello everybody!!

It’s been over two months since our last post and now at last, all the shows are up, the academic year is drawing to its close and we’ve got a massive blog to let you know what we’ve been up to.

Since you last heard from us we have built an amazing cast concrete effect set for the Opera double bill; we’ve curated, installed and hosted our annual 3rd Year Graduate Exhibition; slipped in a couple of paint calls, prop makes and fit ups for Opera scenes and Napoli Milionara in the Milton Court Studio Theatre.  Finally, with a massive push we managed to the fit up the phenomenal build for the end of year musical ‘Grand Hotel’. Just a bit busy then!

It’s been a real who’s who of materials and techniques this term right across our Construction, Painting and Props departments.

Construction have had the volume turned up to 11 this term working on the set for Grand Hotel; we’ve seen welding on an industrial scale to construct fully operational revolving doors and two huge frames to support the mirrored and glazed frontage of the Grand Hotel as viewed from the inside.

First thing out were the two metal frames for the frontage and interior of the hotel; box steel welded and then clad in timber and MDF. Once the frames had been constructed it was through to the Paint Shop for black gloss on the cladding and gold leaf on the fret work and window frame details.

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The Gold leaf we use is in fact brass leaf, it is applied directly from the roll onto surfaces coated with an adhesive called Gilding Size. The size is applied over a layer of yellow paint which hides any small holes in the leaf. Once the leaf is on and the size has dried, we brush off the excess leaf and apply two layers of french enamel varnish to seal it, and to achieve the antiqued effect the designer was looking for.

We’ve also been applying more black gloss effect to all the cladding, flats, panels, treads and handrails; you name it – we glossed it!

Before we could get anything fitted up in the Silk Street Theatre, we had to paint an intricate geometric floor design on the stage.

Our friends in the Technical Theatre department helped us out by rigging a projector on to a flying bar so we could project the design on to the stage and trace out the geometric pattern. The whole ellipse was first marbled in white before we marked on the lines for the masking. Thirty five rolls of masking tape later and we began to paint and marble the black tiles. Off with the masking tape the next day and finish the surface with a lovely glaze to create a beautiful marbled floor on to which the set could be installed.

Here’s the beautiful finished floor with a layer of Bona Mega gloss glaze over the marble painting. Amazing!

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We’ve seen the construction of a rotating concierge reception desk made from bendi-ply, a glorious curved and fanned Grand staircase, and seemingly never ending fret work to create art deco inspired hand rails for the various balconies and decorative elements which adorn the glazing and carefully disguised steel deck.

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All the glazing has also been dirtied down by spraying with a matt glaze with a bit of white paint mix in, adding to the slightly defunct look specified by the designer.

Props made three Belfast sinks on wheels complete with dressing room mirror lights.  We had some decorative brackets for the sinks laser cut by a CADCAM company in south London; CutLaserCut have a selection of industrial size laser cutters so we emailed over our design and they were put to work cutting 9mm MDF to make Art Deco style brackets…Laser Power!

End result is an absolutely epic set, I couldn’t wait to see the actors and musicians apply their magic and it certainly didn’t disappoint, it was a great show and a brilliant demonstration of the collaborative production process here at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

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So there you have it, many weeks of hard work was certainly worth it looking at the amazing result. If you want to see a fascinating time lapse video of the set being taken to pieces you’re in luck! It’s quite a cathartic process destructing a set, the thing I find hardest to comprehend is that all those weeks of hard labour can be undone such a short time, about 12 hours. But that’s the way it goes I suppose. See the video courtesy of  the Technical Theatre department either on their blog or by clicking here.

We’re checking out of The Grand Hotel now;

The Props Department have realised a host of interesting and challenging creations this term. We’ve seen the creation of a prosthetic body parts including the frighteningly realistic torso of St. John the Baptist in its unfortunate de-limbed, decapitated and disembolwled state – so goes the brutal end for St. John in the Stradella opera. Our props students have also served an apprenticeship of sorts in coopering, deconstructing Scottish whisky barrels and recreating a fake barrel mid construction which allowed the opera singers to simulate the construction of the barrel during the performance of Arne’s The Cooper. Sound complicated? It is! See Pat’s Blog for a full run down.

Any finally, to round up this academic years activity, our annual first year Puppet Project!

Our first years have just presented their end of year project. The theme for this years project was the Grim tale of Hansel & Gretel set in an urban landscape, conceived as: HSNL + GRTL

The project kicked off with a crash course in puppetry with puppetry guru Steve Tiplady who gave a half day crash course in making and operating puppets.

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The first years then spent a week creating their puppets and taking crash courses in lighting and video editing from our lighting and video lecturers, then it was into the studio, out on location and finally many hours in the editing suite to create their fantastic version of the folk story, great work guys.

That’s it from us until September so enjoy your summer and we’ll see you on the other side.

I’ll leave you with the video of the first years puppet project HSNL + GRTL, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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This year’s musical takes to the stage…

Another week has passed and as promised it was a busy one! All of the set and scenic cloths that filled the design realisation workshops are now on stage and I must say it’s looking brilliant.

The props department have been working hard on the many props needed for the production.  The carts are looking really good and the drapes are up and in the theatre behind the Yiddish proscenium, along with the flags they were working on in the last post.  Meg has been focusing on an interesting prop this week; recreating a vintage phonograph.  Working from an original as a reference, Meg has been piecing together the phonograph bit by bit over the last few weeks in between working on the other props.  It’s looking really good and I especially like the handle which has been 3D printed! I’m looking forward to seeing it all painted up…

Once again the scenic construction department have been busy, working on stage putting the set up for Rags.  The set is comprised of several components including a large platform at the back of the stage and two large sections at either side of the stage which have brick flats on them.  Each of these sections have trucks that move in and out, and large brick doors; one that flies in and one that opens onto the stage.  Here are some process photos of the set being put up on stage, I’ll be sure to get a picture of the finished set next week…

The scenic art team have also had an interesting week.  At the start of the week they were finishing the two scenic cloths for the production; the huge New York skyline cloth and the smaller Harlequin cloth that hangs behind the Yiddish pros and the drapes.  I’m sure you will agree that both cloths look brilliant!  The team also had some paint calls on stage, painting the floor for the show which is a square, patchwork design in pink and blue with a dark spray over the top and glazed for protection.  Here are some photos of the team finishing off the cloths and during their first paintcall on stage…

All of the scenic components and props are starting to come together now, ready for tech week next week.  I will try and get some photos of the completed set during the technical rehearsals; the set and props always look amazing under theatre lighting and I am looking forward to seeing the skyline cloth lit up.  Stay tuned for some more photos and also some other things going on in the design realisation workshops next week…one of our third year students starts work on a cloth for an outside project and our first year students begin their animation project, plus the rest of the props are finished off ready for the show!

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Another busy week for the Design Realisation team…

The design realisation workshops have been very busy this last week as all of the staff and students have been focusing all of their energy on building and painting the scenery and props for this year’s musical Rags which will open in our Silk Street Theatre in a couple of weeks.  There has been so much going on that it’s been hard to keep up but hopefully I have managed to take enough photos to show you just a bit of what has been going on over the past few days… The scenic construction department have been very busy, so busy in fact I had hardly have any photos of what’s been going on- every time I turn around something new is happening!  The team have been cracking out scenery left right and center this week, making all of the brick flats and welding some interesting steel frames that are going to have a nice rust finish on them. Here’s a couple of shots to get you going, I will make sure I get some amazing photos next week of the fit-up which is always a fascinating process…

The props team have also been busy this week making flags, banners and carts for Rags…among other things!  I’ve managed to get another photo of our new Design Realisation Assistant Grace making a banner and putting her prop making experience to good use this week and of course third year Meg and second year Katie have been working full on as well continuing on the range of props required for this year’s musical.  Here are a few photos of some of the props taking shape, can’t wait to see them finished they look great!

It’s hard to miss what has been going on in the paintshop this week; every inch of the space is taken up with different scenic element being painted or textured ready for fit-up next week. One of the biggest tasks this week has been texturing all of the brick walls for the musical.  The realistic brick effect is made up from quite a few layers.  First the flats are primed with a mixture of glue, sawdust and water which acts as a gritty base to hold the texture in place.  Next an artex and sawdust mix is applied with the use of a template (lovingly made by the construction team!) which is left to dry overnight.  Then the painting process begins; the base of grout grey is applied followed by the two brick colours.  Then a dry bush technique is used to add more depth to the bricks by applying contrasting brick colours.  Dirty washes are then added to the flat finally followed by a dark speckle spray…phew! I think you’ll agree that’s a long process, but hopefully you think it’s worth it, I think they look brilliant!

As well as all of the bricks, the scenic art team have been busy working on the two cloths for Rags.  Second year design realisation student Hannah has been putting her scenic art skills to the test this week taking the lead on painting the ‘harlequin’ cloth for the musical.  The cloth is mainly black with a lovely checkerboard effect that disappears off into the horizon so they have been drawn up and masked off in perspective.  The white squares are painted to look like marble with grey sponged into them and then marble like veins added.  It looks brilliant already and will look fabulous next to the pink and gold Yiddish proscenium that was built and painted last week.  I will be sure to get a photo of these items together during fit-up…

The final (and biggest) scenic element that the paintshop team have been working on this week is the colossal backcloth for the musical.  The cloth, which measures about 10 meters by 6 has a wonderful image of the New York skyline painted onto it, framed by a series of oversized bricks.  The cloth is a filled cloth which has been painted with layers and layers of paint on the more solid areas, such as the bricks and the buildings, and with only a thin wash of colour on the sky.  This will allow the cloth to be lit from behind during the show so that the sky will have a different appearance based on the scene on stage.  There is still some work to be done on the cloth but I couldn’t wait any longer to post it here…I think you will agree it’s well worth a look and represents the scenic art talents of our third year Design Realisation students Nancy and Daisy very well! What do you think?

I told you we had been busy! And it doesn’t stop there…next week it’s fit-up so the construction team are going to be very busy putting the set for Rags into our Silk Street Theatre.  The scenic art department are going to be working hard finishing the cloths and the props team are going to be getting the props ready for tech week.  All in all it is going to be a very busy week for the design realisation department, working on the last main production of this academic year, and the last show that our third year students will be working on before they leave Guildhall School and enter the industry.  It sounds like we have our work cut out for us…but as usual…we’re game!

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It must be musical time…

Now that this term’s opera Owen Wingrave has opened, the design realisation department have turned all their attention to this year’s musical which takes place at the end of our summer term.  This year, the musical is Rags and as you’d expect from a Guildhall School musical, it’s going to be quite spectacle!

The whole of the technical theatre department have their work cut out for them over the next couple of weeks and for the design realisation team, this means building and painting all of the scenery and props.  As you’d expect, the department are working full-on realising Susannah Henry’s design.  Here’s just a snippet of what’s been going on in the scenic workshop and the paintshop…

The construction team have been ‘stepping up’ (couldn’t resist!) their game this week building a series of treads for the musical.  There are 6 full sets of treads on stage, three pairs of various sizes which have been expertly constructed by the team with a woodgrain finish added by the scenic art department.  They also have a stone-like effect  which creeps up the treads; added after the woodgrain.  Here are some shots of the treads being made and painted…

Another element of the set that has been made and painted this week is the Yiddish Proscenium.  As you can see from the pictures, the pros is a dusky pink with ornate gold detail added.  The whole thing is aged with some dirty washes and a dark spray which really gives it some character.  This piece of scenery is a real collaborated effort from the design realisation department as the proscenium itself has been built by the construction team and painted by the scenic artists with the swags being made by the props department.  I’ll be sure to get some shots of the finished set piece during fit-up next week.

The scenic art team have also been busy working on one of the cloths for the musical.  The huge New York skyline cloth has an interesting brick effect around the edge which you can see has been started here.  One of the challenges of this cloth which makes it different to many of the cloths we paint here at the Guildhall School is that it has to be backlit.  Because of this, we are using a filled cloth which is left unprimed.  This means that we can build up several layers of paint on the areas of the cloth that needs to be more opaque and use thinner washes of colour for the sky which will need to be more translucent so that when lit from behind, the light can shine through.  The cloth has been split into grids to allow the team to easily pinpoint which part of the reference they are working on, which is standard practice for a cloth such as this.  The skyline itself has been projected onto the cloth to get the outline, which will then have the details such as the windows drawn in later.  Here is where we are up to…

Well I think you’ll agree that we have been busy this last week.  Next week is going to be even busier; there’s plenty more set to build and paint before the fit-up starts, plus we start another cloth on the paintframe this week; the harlequin cloth so I’ll be sure to get some more photos of both cloths taking shape.  Some very interesting props are being made in the props department too; there are some carts, flags and a gramophone for the musical, as well as a defibrillator for Opera Scenes.  Photos to follow…get ready for a busy week ahead…

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From one show to the next…

Week six of the summer term has arrived; minus the Bank Holiday Monday, plus the rain of course…

Week six means that the design realisation department are finishing the last tweaks and additions for this term’s opera Owen Wingrave and are starting work on this term’s musical, Rags. The scenic art and props department spent last week planning and sampling for the musical. Sampling is an important stage in the design realisation process as this is when we try out different techniques and materials to best achieve the finish desired by the designer. Here you can see the scenic art team and Clare from props working on various samples for Rags, designed by Susannah Henry. There are a lot of elements for the musical and lots of paint effects that need to be sampled including the floor and two scenic cloths. Looks good so far, it’ll be interesting to see what techniques and finishes will be used on the final set.

The construction team have been finishing their work on Owen Wingrave by making the last element of the set; some decorative handrails. Painted with the same high gloss seen in the rest of the set, the handrail has been made by welding pieces of box steel together using a jig to hold all of the elements in place and square. Decorative ‘baskets’ were made up to add embellishment to some of the handrails which were constructed in a separate jig beforehand. Here you can see pictures of the handrails being constructed and the various steps in the process. I think you will agree they look very smart and in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the production.

This week, look out for the scenic art, scenic construction and props department starting work on the musical. The fit-up is only a few weeks away so things are going to get pretty busy once again in the design realisation workshops…

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