Thursday, January 30, 2020

Painting the Set for Three Musketeers

I went into the Shakes to watch as scenic painters Sarah Taylor and Izabella Cellucci working on the set of Three Musketeers. Jeff Ferree gave me a quick tour of the set in progress before I started on my sketch. The dynamic feature of this set is that the center section of the back stage can spin, offering quick set changes. A large motor with a rubber tire is used to spin the circular inset. A circular staircase will be added to the section that spins. I imagine some fancy swordplay on those steps.. The curved back wall looks like stonework but is cardboard pressed and formed to look like stone.

The floors of the set were being painted. The paint is layered in passes. Izabella, with the paint roller was applying the first pass which was a colored base coat. Sarah painnted the center elevated stage section which was getting a darker grout coloring between the ancient stonework. I loved that her paints had as much paint splatter as the stonework she was working on. Actually her pants also had a grey camouflage pattern which made her pants seem more splattered that they were. The background stage floor already had all the paint treatments applied and the stonework was deep an rich, surrounded by dark wooden beams, and all that wood grain was also painted. This was a large set with a whole lot of surfaces that needed painting.

The foreground section of floor then got the fun treatment I was hoping to see. She took buckets of paint and dipped in a large house brush and then threw the paint on each panel. She would drop down the lightest color followed by two other colors and then she let those spatters mix together organically like a molten lava flow. Seated in the front row I was a bit concerned about getting spattered myself but she had total control of her medium. She told me she got her break painting a set at the Rep and she has been painting shows ever since. I loved watching the process, it is so much like painting in watercolor where spatters are just part of the process rather than being considered mistakes. Once the puddled of paint were applied she watched as the pains swam together in unexpected ways. Large fans were then turned on to blow over, but not directly on the drying paint. If the strong fans were aimed right at the paint then streaks would develop and that was not the look they were going for.

Three Musketeers by Catherine Bush is adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The show runs from February 5, 2020 to March 22, 2020. It is a story of double crossings, kidnappings, and carefully guarded secrets, complete with lavish sword fights and sweeping romance, set in a time when love and honor ruled the world. Get your ticket now.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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