My First Door!!

By Charles T. Jackson

The next hurdle in our 2009 Summer Production of “Annie” was that I had never built, or installed a door before, so it was back to the drawing board for me.

Copy (1) of IMG_1447

I knew enough about flats at this point that there were two types, Broadway flats that I had been building, and Hollywood flats, that were built in a more traditional framing style with the 1″ x 3″s on edge rather than flat. I felt that a Broadway style would likely offer a sturdier frame for a door, so I went with it. I framed out the door, attempted to recycle a door from another show, but found it a bit too dilapidated, so I went and got a similar new luan skinned door.
2 Full Function Door

I painted it up and awkwardly added a doorknob and VIOLA!!! Miss Hanigan’s door was done. We lovingly referred to it as just “Hannigan’s Door” which has also become the name of my band should I ever learn to play an instrument!!

The next  thing I painted were the matching walls for Ms. Hannigan’s Office. It was at this point I started to learn and appreciate the differences between painting on canvas flats as opposed to luan flats. The door panel and short wall are both luan and were an absolute pleasure to paint, as apposed to the canvas wall flat in between that seemed to fight being painted at every turn.


My yard turned into a crazy space on every day I had off as I laid all the drying flats on whatever surface I could lean them on.  The next set of flats that I painted were the orphanage dormitory wall flats.

IMG_1468These flats were all canvas.

2 Municipal Orphange InteriorI then painted these squeezed in the small garage space due to some pretty foul weather.

2 8' x 8' NBC Studio IntExterior

The NBC Studio flats were next, and then I knocked out the Brownstone building below!! Phew!! It’s crazy to even revisit this!! I was working a rotating shift, had all three of my kids, and was attending classes at Rutgers!! I honestly have no idea how I found the time.

2 4 x12 Brownstone

This was the first of the six 12 footers I had to do. I then set to the task of getting this drawing…


onto five 12′ x 4′ flats. I was Getting more and more frantic at this point, and wondered daily if I was going to be able to pull this all off. Weighing on my mind at this point as well was the fact that I had no idea how to stand all of the flats on the stage. One of the theatre Dads that had some stage experience had volunteered to make the dollies, whalers and jacks, but at that point I had no idea what those were!!

12 x20 Mansion Interior

I was able to get it done, but by the time I got these to the stage, I had really known that this amount of work for one guy in the workspace that I had was going to be impossible in the long term. The dads that set these flats on the stage had done so much to my disappointment without me due to my work schedule. In my next post, I’ll discuss the many things we discovered after building so many things, in the size I built them, for a small stage at a Middle School. Thanks for stopping to read!!