The World of “Newsies”

The World of “Newsies”


I am sitting at my desk surrounded by the pieces from the model set of Newsies…..

Little people and scenic pieces galore. It reminds me of the dollhouses of my youth. Our genius resident scenic designer George Maxwell has created a wonderful world for our Newsies, and while I don’t want to give it away – I want to share a little bit about the process that will get us to the set you will see on stage in December.

Designing a big musical is a process, and not only does it have to serve the “vision” of the director and the designer, it has to serve the story telling. It doesn’t help to have a beautiful piece of scenery that doesn’t help tell the story. It also has to, in our situation, be a set that we can build within the time frame we have to build it, and for the dollar amount we have to spend.

So that process began in early July with a meeting – in attendance were George Maxwell and myself, and also Kirk Bookman, our lighting designer, and Reed Rossbach, our production manager. That meeting included a lot of phrases like “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” and “How about a…?” and “Can we possibly…?” It also included discussions of the practical needs for this show (A printing press!), a lot of space for dance, and the ten different New York City circa 1899 locations described in the script.

My head was spinning already.

Since then, we have progressed through sketches and computer renderings of back drops and surrounds, individual scenic parts, and the technical specifications for every piece that will be built by our scene shop – if you take the PTC backstage tour in November, you will see those pieces being finished and installed on our stage. Additionally, we made paint elevations for the drops that our scenic artists will paint – these are like mini versions of the full stage backdrops that you see behind many PTC shows.

Then, when we think we are close to getting everything we need and the budgets have been approved and the building schedules are in place, comes the model. The miniature version of the set that will be. This is my favorite part – then like the puppet master I move the scenic pieces around to create the looks for every scene in the play. And that is what I worked on this week!