Category Archives: Backdrops

How to Hang a Backdrop

One of the most asked questions when a customer calls me is “How do you hang the backdrops?”  It’s a simple question.  And like most simple questions, there isn’t always a simple answer.  But in this case, it is rather simple 90% of the time.  However, there are a few different ways to hang our backdrops.  It’s the other 10% that can be complicated.

Across the top of all of our backdrops, there are tie lines for hanging.  The easiest way to hang a backdrop is to simply tie the backdrop on to one of the stage battens.  The center of each backdrop is marked near the tie lines on the back.  My suggestion is to start from the center of the stage and work your way out.  That way, if there is any extra backdrop leftover (ie if the backdrop is wider than the stage), you can fold the ends behind and tie it off in the back keeping the backdrop centered on stage.

About 80% of our backdrops have the tie lines looped through grommets.  So, you can also hook these backdrops onto hardware through the grommets.  Not too many people do this, but it is an option.  The other 20% have cloth ties that are sewn into the top of the backdrop.  These backdrops do not have grommets.  Again, every backdrop has ties, but not every backdrop has the grommets.

About 33% of our backdrops have a sleeve across the top as well.  It is located below the ties (see photo below).  So, you can slide a pipe through the sleeve without having to tie the backdrop.  Usually, this method is used with pipe and drape systems.  The pipe and drape systems are typically used at trade shows or ballroom events and not with traditional theater stage rigging.

Another aspect of hanging a backdrop occurs before you even rent a backdrop.  You really should know what size backdrop would be effective on your stage.  You do not want to get one that is too small or too big, obviously.  But sometimes, you are not going to get the perfect size.  Sometimes when a backdrop is just a little too big, you can fold the extra backdrop under the scene letting it rest on the stage.  For instance, if you have a 15 foot tall stage but really want the 18 foot tall backdrop, you have to look at the picture to see if you can “fold out” the bottom part of the backdrop without losing the effectiveness of the scene.  If the backdrop is simply a blue sky with clouds, folding out any portion of the backdrop is easy, and you will not “lose” any of the scene.  But if you have a city street scene, you might be folding out half of a doorway or half of a window, and that will not look clean.  You can theoretically fold out the top of the backdrop using heavy clamps.  You would tie the backdrop as usual, but instead of folding the backdrop under, you would “lift” the backdrop up and clamp it to the batten.  This is more time consuming, but it has been done.  However, if you do this, it is very important to protect the backdrop from the clamps since the clamps can leave creases in the backdrop.

There are some instances where the stage is bigger than the backdrop and where the battens are dead hung meaning they don’t move.  When this happens you will have to look into adding rope extensions so that the backdrop will hang lower.  So, the size of your stage is part of how you are going to hang a backdrop.

The last part of hanging a backdrop is weighting it down so that the wrinkles are lessened and so that it does not sway in the wind.  Across the bottom of the backdrops is a pipe pocket.  Some of the pipe pockets already have a light chain sewn into the bottom.  But most have the empty pocket.  You can slide in pvc pipe, wood, metal rods, or a chain into the pocket.  If you have to fold out any part of the backdrop, you’ll have to deal with the weight in the pocket.  You do not HAVE to use a weight in the pocket.  But if you do not have to fold out any part of the backdrop, I highly recommend using one to help with the wrinkles and stability.

Disney castle

Backdrops for Children’s Theaters 

Does your local or community theater love producing children’s theater?. Well, now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this global pandemic in the way of a vaccine, it is time to start preparing for your productions in 2021. From the Wizard of Oz to Aladdin, Pinnochio to Little Mermaid, Charles Stewart Backdrops offers a wide variety of backdrops to make your performance look professional and polished. 

Nutcracker scene on stage

Theaters Are Getting Creative 

Theaters across our nation are getting very creative in the ways that they are keeping theater going even in the midst of this COVID-19 outbreak. Some productions are taking place outdoors in parking lots with theater-goers hunkered down in the cars, while other theaters are going forward with virtual productions. It is vital to social and emotional growth that youngsters are able to be a part of a production no matter how it is produced. 

Top Children’s Shows 

According to Children’s Theater Plays online, some of the most popular plays and musicals currently are the traditional shows that we all grew up loving such as: The Wizard of Oz, Finding Nemo, Grease, the Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and of course the Disney fan favorites. Maybe we are all craving a bit of the familiar and the comfort of a storyline that we can follow along with easily or have songs that we can sing along with. 

forest with dirt path and streamBackdrop Options for Children’s Shows 

Under the Sea Backdrops 

One of our most popular backdrops that can be used in a variety of shows is the “Under the Sea” backdrop. From Little Mermaid, to Finding Nemo, to SpongeBob Squarepants, our under the ocean themed backdrop can bring the audience right into the action by making it appear as though the action is happening beneath the water. Add to that the expertise of lighting professionals and the stage can seemingly be under the sea! 

Storefront Themed Backdrops 

Mom and Pop shops seem to be the setting for many plays and musicals, and Charles Stewart has a few options for backdrops to set the scene for each of these. Whether you are staging Geppetto’s wood carving shop in Pinnochio, or the famous flower shop seen in Little Shop of Horrors, Charles Stewart has the backdrops that can transport audience members into the action in each show. 

Tropical Backdrops 

Who doesn’t love the beach and a tropical destination? Broadway shows that have been adapted for children’s theater have produced some fan favorites such as Tarzan, Mamma Mia, and Treasure Island. Charles Stewart can create a tropical paradise at your location using high- quality backdrops to set the scene on a beach with palm trees and beautiful blue skies. 

Check out our categories on our website that can get your imagination going and your creative juices flowing for your next children’s performance. 

 

Times Square NYC

Broadway Reopening Delayed a Little Longer 

According to a New York Associated Press report on the PBS site, fans of Broadway theater will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume. Theater enthusiasts will need to wait until at least late May 2021. Read on to find out more about this safety precaution as the coronavirus rages on across the country. 

The sad announcement about the reopening delay came this Fall from the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry. The 700-plus members of the League include theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers in North American cities, as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theatre industry. 

The decision was not an easy one. 

guitar case open on the ground

The Specifics of Reopening & Refunding 

While there actually is no specific date as of right now for reopening, May 2021 is the current timeframe being looked at. The League, in coordination with Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30. Adjustments can be made to your credit card or funds can be taken as a donation to the theater industry.

This new timeframe may complicate a long list of shows that had planned to open in the spring, including “The Music Man,” “Flying Over Sunset,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Plaza Suite,” “American Buffalo,” and “The Minutes.” Within hours of the announcement, the musical based on Michael Jackson, called “MJ,” pushed back its performances to September 2021.

Times Square NY

Reactions and Reflection 

This most recent delay in opening of theaters was endorsed by the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents 51,000 theater actors and stage managers. Sadly, it is understood by most in the industry as well as theater-goers that the safety of the actors, crew, and vendors is the most important thing at this point. 

Mary McColl, the executive director for Actors’ Equity Association said this about the decision. “It was a difficult but responsible decision to put the safety and health of their workers and audience first. This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood.”

The coronavirus has shuttered Broadway, Off-Broadway and community theaters across the country since mid March. This industry helps to power the United States entertainment economy, making an approximated $1.8 billion dollars last year alone. 

Actors, directors, and producers continue to encourage Americans to wear masks, practice good hand hygiene, stay socially distant, and take the advice of the scientific community in order to protect yourself, others, and get our economy open sooner rather than later. 

 

walkway backdrop

Backdrops for Your Business 

When people hear about our nationally known backdrops, they often immediately envision a theater, stage, or a Broadway show. While this is an accurate vision, we also want our readers to know that we can also provide backdrops for businesses that could take your presentations up a notch. 

trees and tall bushes garden backdropHow Businesses Can Use Backdrops 

Backdrops can create a setting for many different types of businesses. Dance studios, corporate functions, weddings, photo studios, photo booths, storefront product scenes, virtual job fairs, and the list goes on and on. Any one of these scenarios can look more professional, polished, and engaging with a Backdrop from Charles Stewart. 

For example, many dance studios have moved their performances outdoors to accommodate as many audience members as is safe, due to social distancing during this outbreak of the coronavirus. Another example would be seasonal backdrops such as some of our holiday backdrops for photo shoots or photo booths during wedding receptions or for families during this season of holiday picture taking. 

Yet another example of how businesses are thinking outside the box and using backdrops is in the digital world. Many businesses have needed to shift gears toward virtual events such as job fairs, presentations, and performances. These events can be made to look so much better with a setting … thus a backdrop. Not all businesses have access to a green screen studio, so a professionally designed backdrop can create the scene you are hoping to portray. Each backdrop can be delivered directly to the client and set up is easy with our easy to use grommets and tie lines spaced approximately 12-14 inches apart.

Benefits of Backdrops 

Theaters have known for years that the setting of a show can be created wonderfully with a series of backdrops, props, lighting, and amazing costumes. The same can go for your presentation, mini-show, wedding ceremony, photoshoot, or other event that your business may need to pull off during these challenging times. Create the scene you are hoping for with one of our backdrops. 

Backdrops can also create a professional look to any business or performance. If your company is trying to impress clients, this could very well be the way to do so. 

Backdrops, while always associated with Broadway and Off Broadway performances, are also used in so many business settings. Consider our wide selection of backdrops for all of your business needs. 

inside old stone caves

The Impact of Backdrops & Scenery 

Have you ever been to a performance and been absolutely drawn into the world that the characters and scenery have created for the audience? That’s the power of a good show. It can sweep you up and transport you to the time and place as set by the performance. Part of that is the scenery and backdrops utilized by the production crew. Part of it is the acting, blocking, and score performed by the orchestra. Let’s take a closer look at the impact that backdrops and scenery can have on any performance. 

trees and tall bushes garden backdrop

In one of our previous blogs, we examined the role of the backdrop in the overall success of a performance, whether it is done on a high school stage, at a community theater, Off-Broadway or under the bright lights of the Great White Way. “Backdrops provide the perfect and final element that ties the theatrical production together. From dance recitals to events and to the perfect scenery. Backdrops allow you to set the stage and enhance the decoration with the visual impact that makes a presentation unforgettable.” 

What is a Backdrop? 

According to ShowTex, the word backdrop refers to a large plain, printed or painted curtain hanging at the back of a stage or set. Originally used as a scenic element for theatres, backdrops now appear in all kinds of settings ranging from performances on stage to events, conferences, trade shows and more. Backdrop curtains are typically made from flame-retardant materials and sewn without fullness. They add depth to a stage and can turn a plain background into a lively scene when needed.

walkway backdrop

How Backdrops Can Change a Performance

Backdrops truly set the stage for every performance or presentation. The effect is that a backdrop can create a mood that ranges from a dark, scary tone to a bright, happy one and everything in between. For many performances, backdrops can be changed as the mood changes in the storyline. For some plays or musicals, the backdrop remains the same throughout. Those usually tell the story of a particular setting that remains constant or only slightly changes with set design. 

In concert with the music, lighting, and acting, a backdrop can become a part of the illusion of what is happening on stage. Backdrops often set more than just the mood, but can also set the time of day and season of the year depending upon the needs of each performance. Painted, printed and special design backdrops can create a season and time of day with the images they portray. 

Check out our custom and new backdrops that can set the stage and mood for your next performance. We have a wide array of options for rental and purchase, as well as special options for designing a truly unique backdrop for your performance. 

 

Broadway sign

What Hamilton Has Taught Us

Most people who experience a live theater production leave with a sense that they learned something, either about themselves or possibly the world around them. The characters, music, and dialog can add up to a moment of epiphany or understanding that few of life’s events can equal. 

One such production that has taken the United States by storm and is rich in life lessons, is the unlikely story of an American hero, politician, and statesman, Alexander Hamilton. In August of 2015, the hit show Hamilton premiered on Broadway. It has experienced an amazing run with productions in New York, Chicago, and London, with a traveling company that toured the U.S. 

Not only is the show wildly popular, but it is nearing the top 10 of highest grossing musicals of all time, and investors have seen returns of over 600%. These are not numbers that would be lost on our financially savvy Alexander Hamilton. 

revolutionary war image

Learn From the Past 

The story of Alexander Hamilton is filled with life lessons even though it is set in the late 1700s and early 1800s. One of the biggest lessons of the production is that we can still learn from what happened long ago. Our young country is still grappling with many of the same issues today. 

Take for example, the many instances in the production that makes references to the inequalities among immigrants, women, and people of color. The same theme of disenfranchisement and inequities can be seen in our nation today, as we struggle with how this pandemic is impacting people of color at a higher rate and how our nation has become divided in the protesting of brutality against men and women of color. 

theaterCombine the Old With the New 

Less than a decade ago, if someone had said they were going to write a musical meant for Broadway that would be set during the American Revolutionary War era, but set to contemporary rap and hip-hop-style music, they would have been laughed at. Lin-Manuel Miranda actually was laughed at as he described the production that was yet to be released. 

Yet, just five years after this production hit the stage, no one can imagine that this show would be anything other than spectacular! In fact, adults and children alike are singing the songs of Hamilton word-for-word. 

The lesson here is that by combining the old (historic lessons of the revolution) with the new (musical styles) one can learn deeply about an age that set the tone for our country. Forbes Magazine online stated that, “In Hamilton, a familiar story and an old theatrical genre gets a new perspective with a multi-cultural cast and contemporary music performed at a rapid-fire pace (if Hamilton was sung at the pace of a typical musical, the show would be almost six hours long). On stage, the cast is dressed in period costumes from the neck down, but their hair, their attitudes, and their vocal tone, are very much now.”

No matter what lesson you walked away from Hamilton with, you can probably bet that each theatergoer learned a little about how they feel about our country’s history, immigration, race relations, and the role that women play in all of this. Let us know what you took away from Hamilton in the comments or on our social media page.  

 

sheet music and piano keys

Get Your Theater Fix Through Streaming Services 

Are you missing the joy of going to the theater? The excitement of getting dressed up, heading into the city, and waiting for the curtains to go up has been lost the last few months. With no way to get a theater fix until 2021 theatergoers are looking elsewhere to get their theater fix. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, famous Broadway faces were known to record in tandem on Zoom and other video conferencing software to entertain in the face of the stay-at-home orders. Now that the virus has continued to spread, with no vaccine expected in the near future, theater lovers have shifted to streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Netflix to view their favorite shows. 

Broadway theater

Where Can I Find Theater Streaming? 

Word is spreading fast that Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon are offering some unique theater moments. Some television stations are even trying to prepare for potential live theater as they have done in the past. And what’s not found streaming may eventually be made into a Broadway-musical-turned-television-hit soon. 

While streaming is most certainly not the same as seeing a show in person surrounded by hundreds of other theater lovers, it will have to do for the time being. 

phone music

What’s Streaming Now? 

As of July Amazon is offering several streaming options for thespians to get their much needed theater fix. According to Playbill online, Guys and Dolls, Reefer Madness the Musical, Flower Drum Song, Hello Again, Sweeney Todd, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is currently streaming on Amazon. 

On Netflix there are several adaptations of Broadway shows that have come to life on the screen. Jersey Boys, Westside Story, and Fiddler on the Roof are top among audience choices. While these movie versions are not quite the same as seeing it live, it may be enough to hold over even the most diehard theater buff. 

We would be remiss if we did not mention the live streaming of Hamilton on Disney+ or that HBO Max is offering viewings of Chicago, Cabaret, Hairspray, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Little Shop of Horrors. Stay tuned to our blog to find what shows are coming out next and when we can expect Broadway and Off-Broadway to get back into the swing of things. 

When theaters reopen there will be much to rejoice about, but until then let’s enjoy some of the offerings from our small screen partners at Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO. 

 

popcorn in red and white striped container

The Inside Scoop on the Drama Desk Awards

Just because we have been reporting that the lights on Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters have gone dark doesn’t mean that the theater industry has dimmed its lights altogether. On June 13, 2020 the entertainment industry telecast the 65th Drama Desk Awards, which celebrates the best of Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway.

The awards, which were postponed due to COVID-19, were televised in a different format thanks to producers at NY1. Drama Desk Awards executive producer and Broadway Brands CEO, Matt Britten commented that, “Though these are challenging times, we knew we wanted to find some way to honor this year’s Drama Desk Award nominees and recipients, as well as to bring some small sense of normalcy and hope to New York’s theater community,” He went on to say, “I want to thank NY1, as well as the team at Joey Parnes Productions, for stepping up to make this happen for the New York theatre community and theatre fans everywhere. Good things happen when you work with good people.”

musical on stage

As usual, there was a large list of nominees for awards including: Outstanding Play, Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Actors/Actresses in a Play/Musical, Outstanding Director, Choreography, Music, Lyrics, Book of a Musical, Orchestrations, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting, Projections, Solo Performance, and Wig and Hair Design.

In addition to these awards, the Drama Desk honored lifetime achievements and special awards during the telecast including awards for ensemble, individual awards, and for those who have contributed their life’s work in the industry.

The awards were hosted by Frank DiLella and the pre-recorded show aired June 13 during a special presentation of NY1’s “On Stage.” It was live streamed on NY1.com and DramaDeskAwards.com. As a result of the truncated theater season, only shows that opened prior to the shutdown were eligible.

Times Square NY

The televised awards ceremony was meant to be a boost to the theater industry and shine some much needed light on the plight of those whose careers came to an abrupt end when Broadway shut down in March of this year.

For a complete list of the nominees and winners of the Drama Desk Awards check this link as published in Variety Magazine online. To follow the latest on Broadway and Off-Broadway events and a hopeful reopening by the end of the year follow our blog or our Facebook page.

walkway backdrop

How Backdrops Add to Any Performance or Presentation

While we wait for the theater industry to reopen across the globe, we thought it might be a good chance for us to highlight how our backdrops can add to every performance, whether you are a small community theater, one of the famed theaters in New York Cities Broadway district, or one of the many businesses that use our backdrops for your professional presentations. 

desert backdrop

What are Backdrops? 

Backdrops are a large plain, printed, or painted curtain hanging at the back of a stage or set. Historically, these parts of the stage dressings are used as scenic elements of any theater production. Now backdrops appear in all kinds of settings ranging from performances on stage to events, conferences, trade shows, and more. 

Backdrop curtains are typically made from flame-retardant materials and sewn without fullness. They add depth to a stage and can turn a plain background into a lively scene when needed.

Our clients are generally theaters across the country, but we also do business with trade shows, business presentations, dance recitals, night clubs, photography, and television performances. While our primary products are large format backdrops, we also offer a growing selection of valances (or borders) and legs.

hall backdrop

The Benefits of Backdrops 

Theatrical backdrops can set the perfect tone, setting, and atmosphere for any performance. A properly chosen backdrop can create the illusion of another reality depending upon the setting needed for a performance. Audiences can be taken into an entirely new reality when they hear the music, see the backdrop, and follow the storyline. 

Backdrops used in professional business settings can add to any presentation by allowing for the continuation of a brand, creating a professional look to a presentation area, and by drawing the attention of the audience to the key speakers. Backdrops can not only engage the audience but also contribute to the theme you are promoting at a particular function. 

Backdrops also play an important role in professional photography. It can make the difference between a memorable photo and one that is merely one-dimensional. They help to make a photo memorable. A backdrop can add dimension and depth to a photo. Some of the popular backdrops used in photography include; painted canvas, paper backdrops, muslin backdrops, and textural backdrop. 

Overall backdrops are similar to a supporting actor or actress. They help make any performance or presentation rise to a better level. They add depth and dimension, as well as create the illusion of whatever scene you are trying to set. Check out our backdrops by color, category, show, or for those that are new to our collection for your next event.  

 

Times Square NYC

Hurdles for Broadway to Bounce Back 

Have you ever heard the old adage, “The show must go on?” In the theater world this means that regardless of what happens, the performance will forge ahead. 

Often this phrase refers to continuing the show even if issues persist that could ruin a production such as: an actor forgetting their lines, lost props, lighting difficulties, audio issues, acts of nature, or any number of problems that can pop up in the middle of a performance. In most instances this phrase is a sign of the grit, determination, and positive attitude embraced by the theater community. Unfortunately, even the strength of the theater can not compete against a global pandemic. 

Chicago Musical

The Current State of Broadway 

Due to COVID-19, the 41 houses of Broadway in New York City shuttered their doors and the house lights have gone dark. Nearly two dozen New York City shows have been halted. Across the nation, similar news can be reported in major theaters and community productions. 

Not much stops theater productions from forging ahead, except for maybe a fast spreading virus that thrives in closed environments. As of mid-March most theaters across the country shut down live performances. Initially, Broadway theaters had hoped to open by April 12, 2020 only to push that date back due to the fact that New York City was the epicenter of the virus at the time. The new date was then June 7 of this year. That date has come and gone wth no opening occurring. The latest date being floated is currently September 6, 2020. 

This new Labor Day schedule has even the most optimistic of theatergoers questioning the reality of the date for opening. It’s not that patrons are not anxious to get back to their favorite form of entertainment. In fact, an industry survey conducted by Shugoll Research in early April revealed that 41 percent of NYC theatergoers are eager to return to the theaters when they are reopened. While that number may seem high there are some substantial issues that will potentially delay or stop altogether the reopening process for the “Great White Way.” 

Hamilton sign

Major Hurdles to Opening 

If theaters across the nation hope to open this year, before a vaccine is viable, there are a couple of major issues that will need to be addressed. 

Theaters are historically areas deemed to be close quarters. Chairs are lined up in close proximity in order for as many patrons to see the performance as possible. Orchestras that provide the live music are generally at the front of the theater in an orchestra pit. Actors and stage hands generally are huddled along the cramped wings of the theater until their cue is given to enter the stage. 

These conditions are not ideal for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, social distancing is a huge problem in most theater venues. 

Owners of some of the largest theaters across America are facing issues of how to keep both actors/stage hands as well as patrons socially distant during a performance. The answer may lie in spacing out the audience, creating larger prep spaces behind the curtain, and decreasing the number of performances weekly to allow for sanitation between shows. All of these solutions are costly and take quite a bit of effort. 

Another major issue that theaters are facing is one of demographics. Nearly 16% of theatergoers are over the age of 65. This is the highest risk category for the transmission and serious illness for the virus. The percentage climbs even higher if we remove tourists from the equation according to a report in MarketWatch online. 

Stay tuned as we anxiously await guidance from federal and state officials as to how our beloved theaters will tackle these issues and how we, as patrons can help. Visit our Facebook page to see more of how you can get involved.