The Cornish Playhouse
Directed and Choreographed by Kathryn VanMeter Assistant Scenic Design: Jordan Couper
Costume Design by: Savannah Brittian and Indira Schlagg Charge Paint by: Jessica Christensen
Props Coordination by Benji Devine Technical Direction by Jamie Nathan
Lighting Design by Maryalice Weed Photography by: Chris Bennion, Nina Bice, and Jordan Couper
Our production of Seussical begins with a ‘blank page’ -- a white empty stage painted with cross hatching, the only color a red and white striped top hat down center. As characters are introduced in the opening song they create the jungle of Nool from a series of rounded rolling platforms. Pops of color are introduced through flying tree-top ‘bubble’ units and through the costumes. Most Seuss books are like this: mostly white pages with black linework and a tight color scheme. We use this color scheme to help us indicate location. The jungle of Nool is blue and green, and Who is red and yellow. In addition to this we also use textures; fluffy and ‘natural’ for Nool, and synthetic and plasticky for Who. These codes are consistent across scenic, props, and costumes.
Though we do not attempt to replicate Seuss’s illustrations, everything is strongly tied to them. Many of us grew up watching cartoons based on Seuss books, which are full of myriad colors. The books themselves are much cleaner and sparser, and we are getting at that essence in this show. For example most of us think of the Grinch as being green, but he was not drawn that way. In the book he is white with black lines and red eyes. Thus in this production white is our default color, taking the place of black in most shows.
The roundness of the platforms creates shapes reminiscent of Seuss’s illustrations. They can be easily rearranged, allowing for a variety of stage pictures and landscapes for the action to take place on. In combination with two different kinds of flying ‘bubbles,’ one for Who and one for Nool, they allow us to rapidly and clearly change location. The platforms also have hidden ‘tricks,’ such as doors and drawers, inspired by the Cat in the Hat’s red box. These allow us to suddenly reveal costumes and props and even people.