Photo by Timothy Mackabee.

Designer Statements

“I instantly fell in love with the story.”

Designing Darling Grenadine

Darling Grenadine:

Designer Statements

Timothy Mackabee/Set Design

When I first read Darling Grenadine, I recognized its very unique style of performance, design, and staging. You don’t see many new shows put together in such a bold new way. I wanted to make sure I/we didn’t step on the unique way it was presenting itself. 

Michael Berresse, the director/choreographer and my longtime collaborator, also noticed this unique style when he first read it. It’s a love letter to many things: New York City, musicals, community, friends, lovers, pets, and indulgences, which are sometimes harder to tackle. 

The Underground is a space with nothing but challenges. It’s hard enough to design a play with a single set in the space, let alone a large-scale musical with a full audience, actors, crew, and an orchestra. We’ve elected to do something never done before in the Underground by setting it in the round and making it even more intimate than it usually is. Actors will come and go through the space between seating sections, putting an audience member no further than 12 feet away from an actor. I hope the set up makes the show that much more energetic for both the performers and the audience.

Lap Chi Chu/Lighting Design

I first read the Darling Grenadine script before I got to hear the music. I instantly fell in love with the story. But I felt I could almost “hear” the music through Daniel’s beautiful and charming characters and smooth style alone. When I listened to the actual music, the world in which Darling Grenadine wanted to live was even more clear. From here is where the design collaboration began. 

When we started the design conversation, we did so with the small Black Box Theatre in mind. The tightness of the space would work wonderfully with the many intimate moments in the music and relationships. However, we also need to make the space feel bigger than it is, especially when the story takes us on a journey to different locations or when the emotions of the moment grow larger than life.

The lighting design will need to control the composition within the room, via shaping, expansion, and contraction; and do so as quickly and fluidly as a changing thought.  Lighting will also need to elevate the magical, emotional qualities of the music and story. The rich relationships between characters in Darling Grenadine are full of such moments; it gives lighting so much to mine. As we move forward in the process, each of us will do our part to bring Daniel’s story and music to life in a fluid, vibrant world.