Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Originally Posted by Adam Wright, Production Management Intern, October 25, 2007

Chuck Mee’s Queens Boulevard demands that one of New York’s most colorful and diverse neighborhoods be somehow squashed down and thrown on stage, taking audience’s on a topsy-turvy journey through karaoke bars, bathhouses, underground clubs, and everything in between. As you can imagine, creating an accurate and lively representation of such a place has been no easy feat. So as one of the largest scenic designs Signature has yet to undertake in its 17-year history, set designer Mimi Lien and production manager Paul Ziemer should be commended for all the dedicated and exhausting work they have put into such an epic project. Finally, with load-in underway at the Peter Norton Space, Lien’s vibrantly bold, intricately detailed vision of Queens has finally begun to take shape, and the result, even in its half-finished state, is still, quite simply, stunning.

I missed out on load-out for Iphigenia 2.0, but as punishment I got to rip down all the FHM and Maxim girls that blanketed the USR walls by hand. (The new Radiohead came out the day before, so I jammed out on my iPod and made the most of the good music and the cute girls and it actually wasn’t all that bad.) Paul and I readied ourselves for the chaos to come, but fortunately we offered our theatre space to UCSD graduate showcase before load-in, so we had at least had one day of calm before the storm was to arrive. Shortly afterwards painters came in and began transforming the boards into pavement and pedestrian walkways, and soon enough, hoards of neon signs and steel beams began pouring in. The first few days of last week were spent getting up the walls of the set and Queens seemed to be growing into its own.

However, nothing could have prepared me for what awaited in the space after my weekend off. Monday I arrived at the theatre to be greeted with a giant subway highline running across stage, over house right and straight into our sound booth. The effect produced a reaction of “That’s cool” from what I got to see on Mimi’s model, but in person the piece knocks the wind out of you with its grand presence. And though, like most all other aspects of the set, the highline has yet to be painted and properly safety-proofed, but one can be assured that Queens Boulevard is going to be nothing like you’ve ever seen before.

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