Cory Pattak, New York City-based lighting designer and host of in 1: the podcast, sat down with Art Director and Scenic Designer Melissa Shakun, who recently was the Art Director for NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live. She gives all the behind the scenes stories of turning Jason Ardizzone-West’s stunning design into a reality. Hear about all the sand that never made it to broadcast, how the set was built and installed in record time and why the final crucifixion was so difficult to accomplish. Learn about the production design from Ardizzone-West himself here.
Shakun talks about the difference between Prod. Design and Art Direction and how designing for episodic TV differs from theatre with examples from her time on The Americans, The Jim Gaffigan Show, Mysteries of Laura, and Blindspot. She’s got great stories about blowing out windows with fire boxes, shooting scenes under the Astoria Pool, how to make Brooklyn look like 1980’s Washington DC and how she helped transport Seaworld visitors to Antartica as part of the Art Direction team for the Empire of the Penguin ride!
Shakun recently art directed Jesus Christ Superstar Live for NBC, Difficult People for Hulu, The Jim Gaffigan Show for Comedy Central, The Mysteries of Laura for NBC, The Americans for FX and multiple episodes of Blindspot Season 3 for NBC. She was one of the Art Directors on Antarctica, Empire of the Penguin, a ride at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. She assistant art directed Tell Me A Story, Blindspot, Homeland, Sneaky Pete, The Normal Heart movie, and Katie Couric’s Talk show. Broadway credits include Scandalous, A Christmas Story, Baby It’s You, Present Laughter (Assistant Set Designer) Bye Bye Birdie (Associate Set Designer). She has designed numerous productions at the Winnipesauke Playhouse in Meredith, New Hampshire. Shakun earned an MFA from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film at SUNY Purchase, and a BFA from Syracuse University.