Beowulf Boritt Opens Up About Parade

Beowulf Boritt Opens Up About Parade

Manhattan Concert Productions' Parade. Georgia state flag can be seen in top left.

For the concert event of Paradeproduced by Manhattan Concert Productions at the Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on February 16, Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt decided to keep it simple, according to his interview with BroadwayWorld.com

While Boritt never saw the original Hal Prince production of Parade with its large tree set, he knows the Tony Award-winning score and book by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry extremely well, and, in his opinion, that is all a set designer need know in order to avoid other productions influencing one's own approach.

Since it was a one-night-only event, Boritt designed the set to be simple, but effective, one that could be loaded in within two hours and teched within three hours. Boritt's first pitch to director Gary Griffin and composer/lyricist/conductor Brown was the winner: a projection surface of a brightly lit 1915 Georgia state flag with a black and white American flag hung behind it to demonstrate the tension between post-Civil War Southern hostility and the show's theme of nationalism. 

Boritt worked with projection designer Caite Hevner Kemp to project images onto the Georgia flag to indicate the location of the scenes. The production stays as true to the time period as possible with old photographs of downtown Marietta or a pencil factory. When some images could not be found, such as a prison, they would try to conjure a design that was characteristic of that time. Boritt kept people out of the images as often as possible so as to focus on the actors, but there were a few instances, such as the Governor's ball or a chain gang picture, where people played a larger part. 

The rest of the set was comprised of period chairs and tables so that the space could act as a courtroom when necessary, and then shift into other scenes easily. The table where the defense sat actually became a coffin when a black cloth was thrown over it. 

The playing space for the actors was actually downstage of the Avery Fisher's usual stage. This production is so large, with a chorus of over 200 singers and the enlarged forces of the New York City Chamber Orchestra, that the stage had to be built out by about 12 feet.

The creative team also included lighting designer Jeff Croiter and sound designer Jon Weston, both of whom Boritt has worked with before and known for a long time. 

For the full interview, visit BroadwayWorld.com. Watch concert clips of Parade from Theater Mania below.

 

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