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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Linkfest

I’ve been wanting for days and days to write some stuff about what’s happening on my interior landscape, but have been too busy churning out actual work (made some updates to my website, though, alongside working on the big book project). So, in lieu of content, you get some of the interesting things that have come up in the past several weeks.

Design & typography

Beautiful and colorful, both from This Is Colossal:
The Chromatic Typewriter: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2011/12/the-chromatic-typewriter/?src=footer
A Massive Black Field of Cut Steel Plants Hides a Colorful Secret: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/01/a-massive-field-of-cut-steel-plants-reveals-a-colorful-secret/

The Met has a new section on their (recently overhauled) website called “Connections”, a long series of thematic presentations with voiceovers by various Museum personnel and specialists. It’s really nice.
http://www.metmuseum.org/connections/

Of historical interest: a film about Linotype (click to read about/see the trailer if you don’t know what that is) that premiered in NYC this past weekend:

Linotype: The Film

“How to Build a Newsroom Time Machine”: Typesetting and layout the old-fashioned way, or, what “on the pasteboard” really means:
HOW TO BUILD A NEWSROOM TIME MACHINE

Writing

Gotham Writer’s Workshop offers FREE writing classes! (well, one-hour workshops, but it could be fun):
http://www.writingclasses.com/CommunityEvents/index.php

An old one from Neil Gaiman about how to get published and/or how to get an agent:
http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2005/01/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about.asp

Work

Fascinating:
Scaling back consumption in service of happiness:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/business/08consume.html?_r=1&hpw=&pagewanted=all
See also: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-case-for-a-21-hour-work-week.html

Useful:

The 100 Best Lifehacks of 2011: The Year in Review

(srsly, read only the ones that you find interesting! Skip the rest!)

Relationships

Unbelievably beautiful:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arjuna-ardagh/goddess-worship_b_660896.html

Insightful:

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

Naming Elephants: 10 Ways To Use Radical Honesty to Improve Your Relationship

Not really so insightful, but several people pointed me at it:
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/01/20/the-gingrich-question-cheating-vs-open-marriage/

Mmm!

Scotch tastings in NYC:
http://nycwhisky.com/events-old

Star Wars

I forget who pointed me at this, but I am totally loving it (and I’m on about page 52 of 600+ and counting — they just got up to Episode IV last month).
Darths & Droids is an “RPG screencap comic” that re-envisions Star Wars: Episode I (The Saga Begins) as a roleplaying campaign. Apparently inspired by DM of the Rings, but funnier in terms of making sense of the weaknesses of the source material.
http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0001.html

This reminds me that I also wanted to post this link when it first came to my attention several months ago:
Secret History of Star Wars: A Tribute to Marcia Lucas
http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com/marcialucas.html

Jewish

Jewish Sacred Theatre – Its Components and Its Means:
http://www.jewish-theatre.com/visitor/article_display.aspx?articleID=525

A handy nuts-and-bolts link on kashering your kitchen:
http://njop.org/resources/kosher/how-to-keep-kosher/