`Shogun': The Set's the Show Spectacle Nearly Upstages Drama in Loren Sherman's Design for the New Musical. THEATER: INTERVIEW

By Louise Sweeney, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 9, 1990 | Go to article overview

`Shogun': The Set's the Show Spectacle Nearly Upstages Drama in Loren Sherman's Design for the New Musical. THEATER: INTERVIEW


Louise Sweeney, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE stage curtain doesn't rise; it folds - in the form of a huge black-and-gold lacquered Japanese screen - to reveal "Shogun, the Musical."

The spectacle we are swept into is the beginning of a storm at sea, complete with a British frigate rolling about in waves of a shimmering, silky blue. Silvery mermaids and mermen rise amid the waves. The sky darkens; the ship founders; you feel as though you are literally at sea in a gale. And that's not all.

There's the earthquake, in which the ground opens under the actors. Fiery red hunks of earth appear, and the back wall splits open like a roasted hotdog. In the sword-fight scenes, the scenery is as choreographed as the men, so that giant pillars move with a snap into place as the swordsmen do their savage dance.

Shogun, the Look almost upstages "Shogun, the Musical" in the lavish new $6-to-$8 million version of James Clavell's novel-turned-televison miniseries, and now an upcoming Broadway show. The plot remains the same: the story of an English sea captain shipwrecked off Japan in 1700, who falls in love with a gorgeous, although married, Japanese woman.

The sets alone cost over $1 million, and much of the credit for the look goes to scenic designer Loren Sherman. He talked about the massive sets and special effects backstage at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater, where "Shogun" is playing prior to its November opening on Broadway.

It will take 28 semi-trailers to carry the scenery and special effects that fill the mammoth stage here to New York. The Broadway theater is considerably smaller, "so everything you see here will have to be either in the basement (there) or hanging overhead," says Mr. Sherman.

We are standing backstage under the catwalk in the Eisenhower Theater. There are two shows in this theater - the one out front that the audience sees and the one backstage that it doesn't.

We pass the barrel full of steely looking swords, nitrogen tanks for the fog, the board of lights. Sherman points out, "This show uses moving lights, as they use them in rock shows. It allows the lighting designer to point the light anywhere, adjust the color, size, intensity, and patterns in the lights."

We move on past the color-TV camera to see the scenes, and the infrared system that allows people backstage to see in the dark during the split-second scene changes.

We approach the stage, which is raked at such a sharp angle a puppy could roll downhill. Dancers have to be nimble enough to perform on that slant. We pass the fog ducts and then many huge yellow hoses for the smoke scenes. Further on, there are lighting-control consoles, the 500 dimmers; each box has 100 controls, each for a specific light. Nearby we see a huge pair of prop scissors, piles of pillows that are crash pads for when the sailors dive off the ship. Next, a pipe with 28 black-net fantasy horses on it, to be lowered just before a battle scene fought on horseback. A sedan chair and mattresses hang from the ceiling.

Has someone measured all this to be sure it can all fit in the Broadway theater? "Yes, says Sherman. "The scenery will all fit. What gets smaller is the space around it - for the wardrobe people to work, spaces for the actors to run around. He explains that when the platforms used onstage are stored in the wings, people backstage have to stand on top of them, because there's no other floor space. "So they have to know, when a cue is coming, it's going to bring all the platforms on stage. The floor will go out from under them...."

There are two computers for movement of the sets, Sherman points out. "I really did feel like a kid in a candy store, in the computerized scenery movement.... I think this company has state-of-the-art computers. There are separate computers for scenery that's lowered in from above, and for scenery that rolls around on the floor. And they've developed a software program that basically makes it very easy to choreograph the movement of the scenery. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

`Shogun': The Set's the Show Spectacle Nearly Upstages Drama in Loren Sherman's Design for the New Musical. THEATER: INTERVIEW
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.