Into the Woods Theatre Set Build

Last fall I designed and built the set for the East Grand Forks High School production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods. It was a huge set, and a lot of fun to design and build. Scale it tough to judge in the photos but the tree on stage right is about 12 feet tall, Rapunzel’s tower is a total of 17 feet tall! and we had a 25′ beanstalk that rises from the ground behind the cave and rises all the way up to the ceiling. I Didn’t get any photos of the beanstalk when it was up, but I got a cruddy cell phone video of it that I will try to post (or link to on my vimeo).

Here are the pictures! The last image is a panorama on my phone so it is distorted in the center, the stage doesn’t actually curve like that, ha. Thanks!

Dutching the tree, leaving a large 'knot' in the middle for a student to slip inside from the back to poke their head up through the tree.

Dutching the tree, leaving a large ‘knot’ in the middle for a student to slip inside from the back to poke their head up through the tree.

mk_woods_2

The tree fully dutched and ready for paint.

The tree fully dutched and ready for paint.

Painted!

Painted!

The 9 ft base for Rapunzel's tower.

The 9 ft base for Rapunzel’s tower.

Rapunzel's tower with the top on, its another 8 feet tall.

Rapunzel’s tower with the top on, its another 8 feet tall.

The tower fully dutched and ready for paint.

The tower fully dutched and ready for paint.

The tower as it looks hidden partially behind the curtain.

The tower as it looks hidden partially behind the curtain.

Fully painted Rapunzel's tower.

Fully painted Rapunzel’s tower.

The cave after paint.

The cave after paint.

The finished set from afar!

The finished set from afar!

A panorama of the set. You can see the backdrop I cut out by hand to allow light to come in behind the trees for a nice silhouette look of a forest!

A panorama of the set. You can see the backdrop I cut out by hand to allow light to come in behind the trees for a nice silhouette look of a forest!

Here is a link to the video of the growing beanstalk! https://vimeo.com/109244105

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4 responses to “Into the Woods Theatre Set Build

  1. Hi,
    I was wondering, is the dutching 1/3 paint, 1/3 joint compound, 1/3 water. I assume the joint compound is dry and the paint is cheap white latex. Also where is the cheapest place to buy muslin. Is the muslin thi like cheesecloth or thicker like burlap? Any other suggestions?
    Thanks Again,
    Susan

    • Hi Susan, unfortunately being more on the creative than the scientific side of things, I just mix stuff together until it “feels” right! But the joint compound is actually like a paste, it has the basic consistency of mudding compound for drywall. Mix about 4 parts paint, 3 parts joint compound and 1 part glue… It’s fairly runny but still thick, goopey.

      I buy Muslin at a place called jo-Ann fabric but hobby lobby also carries it. It’s cheap, very tight weave and very lightweight.

      Good luck! I cut strips about 4 inch wide by 9 inches long of muslin. Be sure you give yourself a lot of time, dutching takes a while! It’s a GREAT activity to get the kids involved in to help do the work though!

      • Thanks,
        What kind of glue? How long does it usually take to dry? Do you have to do 1 layer, dry then the next laayer?
        I really appreciate all your help. I get to build grandma’s bed and a ramp.
        Thanks,
        Susan

      • I use regular Elmer’s white glue, any PVA glue will do. The dutching takes overnight to fully dry depending on how wet you have your strips.
        I usually only need 1 layer, sometimes you have to go in and patch small holes and things, but one layer will be more than sufficient.

        This assumes of course that you are not using any of the dutched elements as anything structural. For instance in this set I did, no one ever stands directly on top of any of the dutched elements, there is always a wooden base that the students stand on. Hopefully that makes sense.

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