Designs for the Blue Hill Troupe’s 2013 Mikado

As many of you know, I’m a Backstage member of the Blue Hill Troupe, Ltd., the only musical theater group in New York City to donate its net proceeds to charity. I joined in the fall of 2011 shortly after moving from NYC to Boston. (I plan to re-audition for the Frontstage side this fall, but that’s another story.)

Each year, the Troupe does a fall production of a Broadway musical, a winter concert series, and then their season highlight, a large-scale spring production of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta.

I bring a bunch of different backstage skills to the table: a little set construction (I own my own DeWalt screw gun), a little painting, and I’m now working makeup crew for the current production, The Mikado (N.B.: two more performances, today only, 2pm and 8pm!). But the highest-level skill I have to contribute is, naturally, on the graphic design side. So last spring I worked on the Program committee for Utopia, Ltd.… and this year they invited me to be lead designer on the Mikado program. Now, when the Troupe says “program”, especially for the spring show, they mean a massive 140-page volume comprising about half advertising and half editorial content, and represents a team effort of dozens of people over a span of several months. But here’s a selection:

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BHT 2013: The Mikado

The Blue Hill Troupe’s 2013 commemorative tile, based on Doug Larson’s set design.

The other thing I got to do was this: Every year the Troupe produces a keepsake 4″ ceramic tile as a membership gift commemorating the year’s spring show. In March, not long after the program went to press, I got an emergency call from the Troupe president and the set designer, asking if I could perhaps help them get the design ready for manufacturing. They had a concept and a first-draft file, which I revised into the final design shown at right (click to enlarge).

I’ve been very gratified by the crowd response to both these pieces, in which the phrase “the prettiest we’ve had in years!” keeps cropping up.

… And now, I’m off to the green room of El Teatro del Museo del Barrio to staff the makeup table one last time. Break legs, everyone!

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