Shakespeare (center, played by Christian Borle) and his backupsThe historical period was the same, but how the costumes exhibited it couldn’t have been more different for Wolf Hall and Something Rotten

Two Tudor-era shows hit the Great White Way this season and that proved to be a beautiful lesson in contrast. One tells the story of Henry VIII, his many wives, and the cunning Thomas Cromwell. It is poised, serious and historic. The other tells the story of a struggling playwright constantly overshadowed by Shakespeare and the fictional creation of “the musical.” It is irreverent, comedic and theatrical. Both productions clothed their respective performers in beautifully tailored costumes, evoking the Renaissance in stylistically powerful ways, but the results could not be more different.

Read more: Dueling Tudors


MSMT Costumes just debuted a new set of costumes for The Music Man.Period costumes can be a challenge to get right, but there are ways to make sure people aren’t saying the wrong things about your design.

Costume and makeup designers conduct a bevy of research and collect mountains of inspiration when designing for a specific period, be it the 1950s or 1590s. And while it’s always important to get the historical look right—how far do you have to go to get there? How far can you cut corners for a costume or a look? And how far is too far? 

Read more: People Will Talk


Suttirat Anne Larlarb’s design for Sylvia, the single  mother J.M. Barrie befriends and whose children inspire Peter Pan, included separates, which subtly indicate her economic and social status. The details made the dream come alive in Suttirat Anne Larlarb’s costume design for Finding Neverland

Working with Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus requires a keen mind, imagination, solid know-how and flexibility—and costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb is up to the challenge. She recently designed costumes for Finding Neverland, Paulus’ musical adaptation of the 2004 film about playwright and author J.M. Barrie, the two women in his life, and the young boy who ultimately inspired Peter Pan.

Read more: Dressing Up Neverland


Jennifer Finch and Matthew Hancock in I and You at L.A.’s Fountain TheatreThe worst onstage mishap can be the luckiest break. Here’s how to learn from the experience.

When Hugh Jackman nearly cut off his finger preparing to cook a fish onstage in The River last Broadway season, his fellow actors were glad to hear he was OK—and then gave a sigh of relief for themselves. Why? Because it proved if an onstage accident could happen to a pro like Hugh, it could happen to anybody (from a performer to a technician). It also proved that you could recover with grace, both physically and pride-wise, from one as well—and maybe even learn a positive technical or creative lesson from the experience. Here’s how some of the best in the business coped with their misfortune, and four vital lessons their experience taught them (and can teach you). The next time you’re dealing with dropped lines, or your wig flies off, or you accidentally fall through a flat (well, let’s hope that last one doesn’t happen) you’ll be inspired to be resourceful—and emerge stronger than ever.

Read more: Happy Accidents

Gear Review

The MA Lighting dot2 CoreTaking MA Lighting’s dot2 console on a tour

As I have grown older it is clear I got into lighting because of the technology. For me there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting down at a new console and figuring out how to create an exciting design. I recently got a chance to sit down with the dot2 from MA Lighting and was not disappointed. The dot2 is designed for a variety of theatre, touring and educational environments. It is capable of 4,096 DMX channels via 4 DMX outputs on the back and Ethernet dot2 Nodes, sACN, or ArtNet. It also has MIDI in and out, three USB ports and audio-in capability. 

Read more: Spot on the Dot

Light On The Subject

The company of An American in ParisA look at Natasha Katz’s lighting design for Broadway’s An American in Paris

To take a beloved film musical to the stage requires a passion for the work, and to take one that is iconic requires a labor of love. That love and passion for the material was evident in Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and his creative team—including 2015 Tony Award winners Bob Crowley and 59 Productions (for scenic design), as well as Natasha Katz (lighting design), who delivered a wonderful love story full of romance and dance with the current Broadway production of An American in Paris

Read more: Evoking the City of Lights

Answer Box

A moment from Into the Woods at Christopher Newport University, with the painted trees.If you can stencil wallpaper, why not stencil tree trunks? 

For a February 2015 production of Into the Woods at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., director Laura Lloyd and I, as scenic designer, decided to offer our audience the most vivid possible version of a storybook forest that we could put on the stage. This, of course, meant trees. Big ones. Lots of them. Inspired by illustrations in children’s books, we decided that oversized, two-dimensional yet realistically-painted trees would create the world we wanted. But that’s easier said than done for a medium-sized university program with a 41-foot proscenium to fill, especially since the sumptuous film version of Into the Woods had just been released and Hollywood may have bumped up our audience’s expectations to another level. So the fundamental question was, “How do we paint an entire forest, given the constraints of time, budget and talent?”

Read more: Barking Up Another Tree

Sound Design

The Circle of Life brings changes to The Lion King, tooSound Designer Hugh Sweeney helps Disney’s classic musical migrate south

Disney’s The Lion King musical has been enchanting audiences on Broadway for nearly 18 years, and its massive success has spun off tours and productions around the globe. Despite it being a well-oiled entertainment machine, transferring the show into other venues and other countries reveals challenges – like dealing with the capabilities of each new location. Some theatres can easily handle the requirements of the production while others are in markets with less of an emphasis on live theatre. Rising sound designer Hugh Sweeney certainly dealt with this challenge when working as an associate with John Shivers and sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy when they, with the assistance of Masque Sound and local support from Gilsama, recently took The Lion King to the Telcel Theatre in Mexico City. Sweeney undertook all the programming, oversaw the shop build at Masque, supervised installation on site, and taught the show mix to the local team.

Read more: Rebuilding The Lion King

Company 411

John SaariA brief history of John Saari and his "green" scenic company 

Scenic Designer and artist John Saari launched Sculptural Arts Coating 24 years ago to help his colleagues and himself create high-quality work without compromising their health. Their first product was Sculpt or Coat, an easy working, non-toxic cream that can be used to create props, costumes, set pieces or as a tough coating on foam, ceramics and more. This was followed by Sculptural Arts Plastic Varnish Flat and Gloss clear coatings, Tough N’White all purpose and metal primers and the deeply pigmented Artist’s Choice Saturated Paint line.

Read more: Sculptural Arts Coating

TD Talk

Todd ProffittSawStop has a new competitor from Bosch for making table saws with next-generation safety features

Working in the scene or prop shop comes with certain risks. One of the most common tools used in the shop is the table saw. In 2014 the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in the years 2007-2008 more than 76,000 table saw-related injuries occurred. I can remember as a child helping my dad by catching cut wood on the table saw and I also remember the night he came up from the basement and asked my mom to take him to the hospital because he cut his finger. 

Read more: Competing for Safety

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