Greased Lightening

By Charles T. Jackson

By now, certain things I do in the design phase have become a habit. First, I figure out the foundation of the set with the director with the models. Grease Pic 2
Once I have the foundation set, I draw out all of the details that the director wants on the stage.
Grease Pic 1
This image represents what the set will ideally look like if I can get’r’done. Once the director has seen the drawing, and approved it, I go ahead and get started on the construction. For this production of “Grease” at a local private school, I basically just had to put down on paper what the director was telling me, and then build and paint it. Easy right?
16' procenium piece Burger Palace side for Grease.
This particular director always wants to involve any interested youths in the painting of the sets. For this show, the kids initially painted all of the decorative pieces, and then I added some outlining and highlights and we were set. The proscenium pieces were re-recycled flats and were painted with red and white checkers on the stage left side, and pink and white on the stage right side.
16' procenium peice for the Marty Bedroom side of the stage for Grease
The kids in this show were thrilled when they saw all of the decorative pieces on the proscenium flats.
8' x 8' Grease sign
As this cast was huge, the director wanted the wings covered so that she could stage cast members without being seen by the audience. She said that I could do whatever I wanted on the stage right side, but asked if there was a way that we could get a 50s style radio for the stage left side, and added that it would need a window for a radio announcer to peek through. Well, as I am not one to disappoint, I went ahead and built two new flats for the radio.
8' x 8' 50's era radio for Grease
These two flats are the only new things built for this show. I made the window round in anticipation of making it the knob of the radio, but they didn’t line up right, so I painted it anyway. No one cared, it looked and worked great. I’m pretty proud of the fact that you can barely see where the window is on the left flat.
Grease Pic 1Levels with Rydell High sign and Boosters for Grease.
I am extremely proud of the fact that I have been able to successfully get a show designed, built, painted and installed pretty much just the way I have it initially designed. But what I am most proud of is the fact that since we have been able to build, maintain, and store many of these foundation set pieces, we have had a role in the cost reduction involved in putting on shows at this level, and have hopefully played a part in enabling shows like this one to go on for a long time to come. In my next post, I’ll discuss some of the re purposing I did for the Summer Youth Theatre production of “Pinocchio”. Thanks for stopping by.