Current productions…Les Miserables, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN

I’m currently designing scenery and lighting, and consulting on a production of “Les Miserables” at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, MN, which we have decided to do in the round in a large space because their original stage is so small.  The production will open March 20, and run weekends through March 29.

Below are a series of photos of the work on “Les Miserables”, taken Friday, February 27, 2008.

In these first two photos, you can see the cavernous, multi-functional space with a small hole-in-the-wall stage at one end.  It was the limited space on the stage that first suggested to me that we might attempt to do this production "in the round" in the middle of the room.

In these first two photos, you can see the cavernous, multi-functional space with a small hole-in-the-wall stage at one end. It was the limited space on the stage that first suggested to me that we might attempt to do this production "in the round" in the middle of the room.

The original stage will be used to house the orchestra for "Les Miserables".  The curtaining will help to contain the sound, allowing the young players to play more fully and accurately on their instruments.

The original stage will be used to house the orchestra for "Les Miserables". The curtaining will help to contain the sound, allowing the young players to play more fully and accurately on their instruments.

The school has decided to put in six permanent lighting bars, which will effectively turn the space into a black box style theatre to go along with the small proscenium space at the end of the room.

The school has decided to put in six permanent lighting bars, which will effectively turn the space into a black box style theatre to go along with the small proscenium space at the end of the room.

In this picture you can see how the new lighting bars will be muchmore attractive than the existing one for lighting the proscenium stage.  Eventually, there will be a long bar in the center over the proscenium apron to replace this existing eye sore.  Note the new pipe in the far left of the picture.

In this picture you can see how the new lighting bars will be much more attractive than the existing one which lights the proscenium stage. Eventually, there will be a long bar in the center over the proscenium apron to replace this existing eye sore. Note the new pipe in the far left of the picture.

Lighting control will still be located in the front of the small balcony, which will not be used for seating in this production.

Lighting control will still be located in the front of the small balcony, which will not be used for seating in this production.

Eric Johnson, the technical director, and Dan Doerrer, the head of the theatre program at DeLaSalle, discuss the upcoming afternoon's tech session.

Eric Johnson, the technical director, and Dan Doerrer, the head of the theatre program at DeLaSalle, discuss the upcoming afternoon's tech session. Both Eric and Dan are former students of mine at Hill-Murray School.

Eric begins work as the students arrive.  He is assisted today by Marino Eccher, also a former student of mine, and a graduate of the Hill-Murray School theatre program.

Eric begins work as the students arrive. He is assisted today by Marino Eccher (center), also a former student of mine, and a graduate of the Hill-Murray School theatre program.

Both actors and technicians help with the scenery at DeLaSalle.  Here, Felix, who willbe playing "Jean Valjean" in the production, assists Eric with a platform.

Both actors and technicians help with the scenery at DeLaSalle. Here, Felix, who will be playing "Jean Valjean" in the production, assists Eric with a platform.

Although no member of the audience will be seated further than four rows from the stage, the director, Anna Carol McCorison wanted a platform for the center of the playing space.  I designed an irregularly shaped platform, twelve inches high, to accomodate this request.  The platform will also house two streetlights, and three boxes containing fog machines.  It will contain a small ramp for rolling scenic units to reach the top, several one step units that actors can use to access the platform from the six foot wide circle of playing space that remains at floor level between the platform and the first row of seats.

Although no member of the audience will be seated further than four rows from the stage, the director, Anna Carol wanted a platform for the center of the playing space. I designed an irregularly shaped platform, twelve inches high, to accomodate this request. The platform will also house two streetlights, and three boxes containing fog machines. It will contain a small ramp for rolling scenic units to reach the top, and several one step units that actors can use to access the platform from the six foot wide circle of playing space that remains at floor level between the platform and the first row of seats.

Here is a small section of the plan for audience seating.  No one is more than four rows from the playing space, and we are able to seat about 275 people.

Here is a small section of the plan for audience seating. No one is more than four rows from the playing space, and we are able to seat about 275 people.

Mary Beth will be in charge of lighting, but here she assists with the platform construction.  36 Source Fours, which have been rented from Norcostco, will not arrive until March 9th.  I will assist Mary Beth with the lighting design by e-mail, so that the plan is ready to go when the rental lights arrive.

Mary Beth will be in charge of lighting, but here she assists with the platform construction. 36 Source Fours, which have been rented from Norcostco, will not arrive until March 9th. I will assist Mary Beth with the lighting design by e-mail, so that the plan is ready to go when the rental lights arrive.

Mary Beth and Rachel prepare to cut with the miter saw.  Students who work on scenery construction learn the safe operation of a wide variety of shop tools.

Mary Beth and Rachel prepare to cut with the miter saw. Students who work on scenery construction learn the safe operation of a wide variety of shop tools....

....and they also have fun!

....and they also have fun!

Eric studies the plan as the central platform takes shape.  Since this space is used as a cafeteria, and practice facility for other groups liek the wrestling team and the cheerleaders, the entire platform stage will need to be disassembled for the week between shows.  We will use casket locks to enable the students to quickly set up and strike the stage.

Eric studies the plan as the central platform takes shape. Since this space is used as a cafeteria, and practice facility for other groups like the wrestling team and the cheerleaders, the entire platform stage will need to be disassembled for the week between shows. We will use casket locks to enable the students to quickly set up and strike the stage.

Paul, Felix, Eric and Marino check the diagram to make sure that each piece fits in place.

Paul, Felix, Eric and Marino check the diagram to make sure that each piece fits into place.

When 6:00 pm arrives, and the tech session is over, everyone pitches in to clean up the space.

When 6:00 pm arrives, and the tech session is over, everyone pitches in to clean up the space.

An early version of the design for the center platform, showing the proximity of the first row of the audience, which completely encircles the playing space. When the decision to raise the platform from six inches to a foot was made, we also decided to cut back to just one access ramp for rolling scenic units.

An early version of the design for the center platform, showing the proximity of the first row of the audience, which completely encircles the playing space. When the decision to raise the platform from six inches to a foot was made, we also decided to cut back to just one access ramp for rolling scenic units.

Here is the performance space at lunch time, when it doubles as a cafeteria.

Here is the performance space at lunch time, when it doubles as a cafeteria.

Monday, March 9, 2009...We started hanging lights today. This is the plan, prepared by student Assistant Lighting Designer, Mary Beth Taylor, for the positioning of the 36 rental lights on the 6 lighting pipes that were installed by the school over the performance space.

Monday, March 9, 2009...We started hanging lights today. This is the plan, prepared by student Assistant Lighting Designer, Mary Beth, for the positioning of the 36 rental lights on the 6 lighting pipes that were installed by the school over the performance space.

Friday, March 13, the lights are hung and focused, and Allison and Sandy prepare to run the sound board for the actors' microphones.

Friday, March 13, the lights are hung and focused, and Allison and Sandy prepare to run the sound board for the actors' microphones.

The cast assembles the stage.  Becuase of other activities in the space, the simple platform stage must be assembled and struck for every rehearsal.  The cast can do it in less than ten minutes.

The cast assembles the stage. Because of other activities in the space, the simple platform stage must be assembled and struck for every rehearsal. The cast can do it in less than ten minutes.

The proscenium stage at the end of the room will be cleared tomorrow for the orchestra.  This will be the last night they play on the same floor as the actors.

The proscenium stage at the end of the room will be cleared tomorrow for the orchestra. This will be the last night they play on the same floor as the actors.

Mary Beth has written all the light cues, and tonight we rehearse with full lights for the first time.  The area in the middle of the Florance Center begins to come alive with the feel of an intimate arena stage.

Mary Beth has written all the light cues, and tonight we rehearse with full lights for the first time. The area in the middle of the Florance Center begins to come alive with the feel of an intimate arena stage.

Director, Anna McCorison, takes careful notes as the run through begins.

Director, Anna Carol, takes careful notes as the run through begins.

At times she still needs to step into the playing space to make minor adjustments.

At times she still needs to step into the playing space to make minor adjustments.

Fantine's letter is read in mockery by the other girls in the factory.

Fantine's letter is read in mockery by the other girls in the factory.

She is accused by the others of bearing a child out of wedlock.

She is accused by the others of bearing a child out of wedlock.

The Foreman confronts Fantine, and she must leave her job, which is theonly support she has for her small child.

The Foreman confronts Fantine, and she must leave her job, which is the only support she has for her small child.

The head property mistress, Tori, sits next to Anna, and keeps a tight inventory on all the props that are used in the production.

The head property mistress, Tori, sits next to Anna, and keeps a tight inventory on all the props that are used in the production.

Fantine attempts to earn money on the street to support her child.

Fantine attempts to earn money on the street to support her child.

The Thenardeir's tavern, where Fantine's child, Cosette, serves in virtually slave labor conditions.

The Thenardier's tavern, where Fantine's child, Cosette, serves in virtually slave labor conditions.

Years later, in Paris, Cosette will meet and fall in love with a young student named Mrius.

Years later, in Paris, Cosette will meet and fall in love with a young student named Marius.

We have now started rehearsing with the front row of audience seats inplace.  Here off stage cast members sit to give the on stage cast a feeling for what it will be like with the audience so close.

We have now started rehearsing with the front row of audience seats in place. Here off stage cast members sit to give the on stage cast a feeling for what it will be like with the audience so close.

The finale of Act One is a stirring full cast number.

The finale of Act One is a stirring full cast number.

In Act Two, a street boy named Gavroche joins the students at the barricades.

In Act Two, a street boy named Gavroche joins the students at the barricades.

Eponine, The Thenardier's daughter, risks her life to get through the barricades with a message for Marius.

Eponine, the Thenardier's daughter, risks her life to get through the barricades with a message for Marius.

Badly outnumbered, the students valiantly fight on for freedom at the barricades.

The students valiantly fight on for freedom at the barricades. Because a large central barricade would be a major visual obstruction in the arena staging, Anna suggested five smaller barricades which would block the five radial access aisles. I thought the idea was perfect, since Paris is filled with circular intersections, and the students could just as easily have barricaded themselves in one of these.

Night falls, and the students keep a careful watch.

Night falls, and the students keep a careful watch.

A few women remain at the barricades to help with the muzzle loading rifles of the times.

A few women remain at the barricades to help with the muzzle loading rifles of the times, and to attend to the wounded.

Both Anna and I are big fans of textured lighting, so with the exception of a few specials, all of the 36 rented Source Fours have breakup gobos in them.

Both Anna and I are big fans of textured lighting, so with the exception of a few specials, all of the 36 rented Source Fours have breakup gobos in them.

The rifles for the barricade scene, as wellas the materials to build the barricades themselves were borrowed from Hill-Murray school in Maplewood, MN, where I directed a production of "Les Miserables" in 2003.

The rifles for the barricade scene, as well as the materials to build the barricades themselves were borrowed from Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, MN, where I directed a production of "Les Miserables" in 2003.

The effect of the textured lighting is well shown in this photo.

The effect of the textured lighting is well shown in this photo.

Hopelessly outnumbered, and knowingthat the next morning's fight will be their last, the students and their girls sing the sad ballad, "Drink With Me">

Hopelessly outnumbered, and knowing that the next morning's fight will be their last, the students and their girls sing the sad ballad, "Drink With Me".

Valjean prays for Marius' safety in the coming battle as he sings, "Bring Him Home".

Valjean prays for Marius' safety in the coming battle as he sings, "Bring Him Home".

“Les Miserables” opens on March 20, 2009, for a two weekend run at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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