In our first week of Miss Bennet performances, we’ve received a lot of questions from our audiences about this drawing room in the beautiful, lavish Pemberley estate. Set designer Ron Mueller and producing artistic director Stephen Weitz answer some of them for the BETC Blog:
How did you construct that amazing set?
This set is a combination of pre-existing set pieces and newly built items. The side wing units (door and fireplace), as well as the upstage windows, are part of a set from La Traviata that was originally produced by the CU Eklund Opera Program. We built the upstage section to complete the room for this BETC production, and painted it to match.
How long did it take you to build that and get it all onstage?
Once the build was completed, our team had to move it into the Dairy. The set pieces and accompanying furniture filled a 17′ U-haul truck three times. It took us six hours to load all the components into the Grace Gamm Theater. Once we got it all into the Dairy, it took 36 hours to fully assemble the set. Once assembled, it required a full week to complete the set dressing, paint touch-ups, and other finishing touches. The show features a well-integrated set and lighting design. On and above-stage hang over 40 lights, including practicals such as the sconces and fireplace effects. We spent an entire day hanging the instruments in the air, and then a second day focusing them with the set in place.
Where did you find that period instrument?
The “piano” is a shell designed to look like instruments of the early 19th century, right down to the wooden keys. It doesn’t (nor did it ever) actually play. A small speaker embedded in the shell provides a more realistic piano sound.
It’s snowing throughout Act Two! How does that work?
Three “snow rollers” positioned above each window create the snow that falls during each show. They are essentially large tubes made of chicken wire and gaff tape. When powered, a small motor rotates each tube. This causes the snow to fall through the holes in the chicken wire and drift down behind the window. Each snow roller must be refilled before every performance.