Category Archives: Set Design

Victorian Home

Our Favorite Nutcracker Backdrops For Your Show

Can you smell it in the air? Temperatures are dropping, seasons are changing, and we are rushing headlong into the busy holiday season. Christmas is just a couple of months away! That means holiday music will soon begin to play, stores will be decked out in visions of yuletide greetings, and theater performances depicting the magic of the season will be right around the corner. 

The Nutcracker is one such ballet performance that we have always been fond of here at Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. In fact, we love the Nutcracker ballet so much we have over 130 Nutcracker backdrops to set the scene for your next performance of this famous theatrical event. 

The Story of the Nutcracker

The Nutcracker ballet is based on the story, “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman. While the ballet is slightly different from the original storyline, the basic plot remains the same. 

The story opens on Christmas Eve in the late nineteenth century at the Von Stahlbaum home where Clara and her brother Fritz are excitedly preparing for the next day with family, friends, and guests. As last minute preparations are made for Christmas day the brother and sister join Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara’s mysterious godfather for games and stories.

Drosselmeyer keeps the children and guests entertained with magic tricks and mechanical dolls. While Clara would love to have one of these dolls to keep for herself, she is instead presented with a wooden nutcracker soldier. 

Clara is devastated when a struggle causes the nutcracker doll to fall and break. Her godfather mends the pieces and sends his goddaughter off to bed where her dream then becomes what we know as the Nutcracker Suite! 

Nutcracker Backdrops for Every Scene

Each scene of the Nutcracker ballet takes us through the imagery that Clara creates as she dreams about the Nutcracker soldiers and Mouse King coming to life in her Victorian era home.

Interior Victorian Home

Scene I – The Party Scene

It is this Act , known as the “Party Scene”  and eventual “Battle Scene” where Clara and her family gather for the holiday that can be beautifully set by some of our “Palace” backdrop options. The elegant staircase and stately columns set the stage for a grand room that is in the final stages of preparation for Christmas celebrations.

Interior Victorian Home

More of our Victorian home backdrops include: The Drawing Room #1910, Victorian Interior #1943, Victorian Interior #2251, Victorian Interior (with center fireplace) #2264, Christmas Interior #2460, Palace Interior with French doors #2538, Blue Drapery Interior Victorian #2541, and Christmas Interior with cozy fireplace #3148

Snow Forest

Scene II – The Snow Forest 

In addition to the beautifully adorned palace in this act, Clara also travels through an enchanted snow forest where the Snow King and Queen, as well as Snow Maidens dance for Clara. Some of our backdrops are perfect to set the stage such as the Winter Wonderland shown below or: the Snow Forest #2474, Snow Landscape #2240, and Snow Forest Backdrop #1863.

Sweets

Scene III – The Sweets 

During this act, Clara celebrates the defeat of the Mouse King with the Sugar Plum Fairy as highlighted by many noteworthy dances such as Waltz of the Flowers, Dance of the Dew Drop Fairy and, of course, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

Candy Land

We have several backdrops for rent that would make the perfect setting for this “Palace of Sweets” portion of the ballet. 

Here are links to several others that would be appropriate for Act II of the Nutcracker: Palace of Sweets #2274, Land of Sweets #1853, and Palace of Sweets (with rotunda) #1946

No matter what version of the Nutcracker your organization is performing, we can help you find the perfect backdrop to set the stage for your holiday performance. 

 

Frozen soap bubble

Frozen Fans Delight in Our Backdrops 

Are you or your children super fans of Disney’s Frozen movie? If so, you may spend your days turning normal conversations into songs from the wildly popular 2013 movie. If your kids can’t just “Let It Go” you may need to find an outlet for their obsession in the form of a Frozen themed birthday party or summer get together with friends. Here are a few ideas on how to use our Frozen themed backdrops for your next gathering. 

deer in snowy woods

You May Be A Frozen Super Fan If…

Sure, we all loved Frozen! Who doesn’t love a story about resilience, sisterhood, true love, and, of course, a movie with a singing snowman named Olaf? 

Some of us go a little beyond just loving the movie and step over into being a superfan. You may be a Frozen super fan if: 

  • Knocking on a door without saying “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” is difficult.
  • You want to be both Elsa and Anna. 
  • You find it difficult to say “Okay, bye” without adding in the next lines from the movie. 
  • You name your winter snowman Olaf. 
  • You create castles out of ice in your free time. 
  • The idea of a reindeer as a pet sounds like a good idea. 
  • Your search for signs of Frozen in other Disney Movies. 
  • Kristoff is your dream guy. 
  • You recognize the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana anywhere.

ice palace

Backdrops for Your Frozen Party, Dance Performance or Cosplay

If you’re planning a party centered around Queen Elsa’s Ice Castle or Anna dancing around the streets of Arendelle, our backdrops can help you set the stage for the perfect snowy scene. 

From the cobblestoned streets of a European village, to the snowy backdrop of the hills above Arendelle to the famous Ice Palace that Elsa retreats to, we have the perfect backdrops for your next Frozen party or local musical. Not only are our backdrops easy to set up and take down, but they make the perfect addition to parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, theater groups, and dance performances alike. 

Add your own costumes to our breathtaking backdrops and the children and adults will be amazed how a theater or backyard can be transformed into a place of magic and wonderment! 

Frozen, the movie, is considered by some critics as Disney’s best animated film since the studio’s Renaissance Era. If you or your children love Frozen as much as we do, check out our backdrops of a European city street, our snowy tree backdrops, the Ice Palace and more on our backdrops page. 

 

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. 

 

The Perfect Setting for Your Show

When it is important to set the stage or the mood, backdrops are the perfect item. From the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, theater has been a way to express ideas and emotions. Theatrical renditions range from tackling the most controversial issues and historical events to depicting real life drama, fantasy or romance. The creativity involved in these endeavors is unrivaled. Great care is taken to create the most lifelike of scenes or to evoke a particular emotional response. The backdrop and the scenery are the canvas on which the drama occurs. This essential element transports the viewer to another place and time as the events unfold. Backdrop rentals can help to accentuate many functions.

Backdrops come in a variety of forms. This can range from a basic curtain to elaborate theatrical scenery. Backdrop rentals can be used for stage shows, weddings, photo shoots, and other special events. Muslin backdrops come in a variety of colors and shades. These can be hand painted or reversible for a variety of options.

The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing the best backdrop rentals for an occasion. Beautiful scenic backdrops of locations from the US to Europe to Asia to Africa are available. Exotic scenes from the jungle, the pyramids or an enchanted forest can also be had. Backdrops from a Broadway musical or scenes simulating a dance club are also popular. Religious backdrops can enhance the depth of any religious function, lending a more spiritual energy to the occasion. There are also holiday specific backdrops that can make any day special. You can even design your own custom backdrop, but these you would have to purchase.

Backdrop rentals are just a Google search away. Many options are available online with a vast array of choices that will suit any occasion. When confirming the booking, we may require a deposit with payment in full due prior to shipping. It is possible to hold your choice until you make a final decision. Backdrops are the responsibility of the customer from the time that they are rented until they are returned. Care should be taken with backdrop rentals. A clean dry surface is required for handling. Sharp objects can rip or tear the backdrops, resulting in costly repairs, so be careful when opening the box the backdrop arrives in. The backdrop of your dreams can make your special occasional a day to remember.

Are you Planning Your HS Fall Production?

The school year may be over and the classrooms all empty, but your mind is reeling about a potential fall production at your school. You sing show tunes in the shower and choreography is never far from your mind. You show all the signs of being a drama coach or theater teacher!

Now that the stage lights are off and the props have been cleared, drama teachers are already in full swing even though most of us are spending our days at the beach. A die-hard drama fan will be plotting and planning what might work for a fall production at your school. Here are some of the questions they will be sorting through.

What Show?

The biggest question on the minds of theater teachers is what production can we do? Choosing a script is not an easy thing to do. One needs to take into account how many students there will be in the program, especially now that the seniors have flown the coop. It is also a time to evaluate what skills and talents the potential future cast may have.

Picking a musical that’s right for your program can depend on many factors, including the size of your cast, the interest of your students and, of course, availability of performance rights. In addition, you will want to consider what the school’s current budget is and the size of the venue for the production you are considering. Also, keep in mind your access to sets, props, and costumes. Weighing each of these things can help you in determining which show will be the right fit this fall.

What is Your Population of Actors?

As we mentioned previously, how many actors are in your program can help determine whether you can have a performance with a large cast, medium-sized cast, or small cast. You should also consider who are your actors not just how many. Do you have more girls than boys? Do you have a handful of serious talent or just one or two brilliant actors in your group? If you are considering a musical, what is the range of voices that you will be dealing with?

 

What is Your Budget?

Before you choose your play, consider your budget. A straight play vs. a musical is more budget friendly. Consider what costumes, scenery, and backdrops you will need. Do you need to buy the royalties to the play or will you choose one in the public domain?

 

What About the Space?

What does your theater look like? Can you handle a larger production or will you need to relocate to a community theater? Will you have access to practice times or will that impact your budget as well?

These are all great questions to consider as you dream of your next production. If you are searching for inspiration, check out Theater World’s list of High School Musicals. When it comes time to consider backdrops, check out our wide assortment of options here at Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart.

 

Creating a Safe Rehearsal Space

Being a part of a theater production can be exciting and somewhat demanding. As a backdrop company, we at Charles H. Stewart understand how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of a new production. One thing we also understand is that a safe rehearsal space is paramount to any production.

Let’s take a look at both the physical space and emotional space that can provide safety and comfort for actors no matter if it is at a community theater or under the bright lights of a Broadway production.

 

Physical Safety

First and foremost, the physical safety of a rehearsal space should be considered to keep all actors, directors, producers, and crew out of harm’s way during a production. One of the biggest threats to injury is keeping walkways and stage entrance/exit areas clean of debris. This means that props that could be bumped into or tripped over should be kept in specially marked areas. Keeping the floor clean, even down to small things like an errant nail on the floor is important since most actors must find their way in the dark when a production is underway.

Along with having props put in safe places, it is important to communicate with each team member about potential issues with staging, curtains, backgrounds and other large items that could fall or hurt an actor if things do not go as planned. Always have a first aid kit well-stocked backstage and an emergency exit to ensure that, if something does go wrong, it can be dealt with appropriately.

 

Emotional Safety

Acting means taking risks with your emotions and your level of confidence. That is why we are including emotional safety as a category for this particular blog. Have the members of your theater group come up with a code of conduct that can rule what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Many plays and musicals have physical encounters that could make for uneasy moments. Talk through these scenes prior to blocking them out so that everyone knows what to expect. Encourage a positive environment where every voice is heard and people feel comfortable enough to do so.

At Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart we know the importance of safety of all who are taking part in a production. Talk to our specialists about how our backdrops can be used safely in your production.

 

Creative Expression Through Theater

No matter what role you play in the theater, you have some opportunity for creative expression. Whether you’re a theatergoer, a member of the crew, or an actor as part of the cast, every person contributing to the production and viewing the production is important to the theater community for many reasons. When people come together by creatively expressing themselves and enjoying themselves, the support rings true throughout the entire auditorium.

The Cast 

entire cast on stage

Each member of the cast is given a role that’s perfectly fit for them. When an actor proves themselves fit to play a character, they make that character their own. They have the full creative direction to take on the role in their own way. This is what makes each actor’s version of a character so interesting. Actors improve by challenging themselves to play different types of characters, learn new skills, new character traits, gestures, body language, and master different personalities.

The Chorus/Supporting Roles

Even minor roles and supporting characters have the ability to contribute their creativity. When a chorus maps out their music, they have many decisions as to how to present their music.

The chorus decides how to best position themselves on stage, how to deliver, enunciate, and articulate their lines. The role of the chorus supports the main roles by singing and speaking. Choral pieces act as interludes to new scenes, and bridge subsequent elements of the show together to highlight the importance for the audience. The way they present themselves and interject songs with scenes greatly contributes to the production.

The Crew

The crew of a production has the ability to express themselves through the set design. Building a set takes time, planning, and proper materials. The crew expresses themselves with visuals, building and curating a set that matches the theme of the production. As the show runs through, the crew makes everything possible from moving props and changing scenes. The positioning of every element of the set on stage is crucial to the production’s success and believability.

Each member of the production works together as a team. Throughout this process, creative expression is at an all-time high. Everyone makes decisions and devotes time to something greater than themselves individually. When things come together and everyone works together, the feelings of gratitude and joy after a successful opening night are truly unmatched.

When you’re looking to rent a backdrop, or purchase or customize your own, Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has thousands of backdrops in inventory for you to choose from. Reach out to Charles H. Stewart at (978) 682-5757. Your perfect backdrop is awaiting you, ready for delivery.

Tips for More Efficient Set Designs

Set design is one of the most important aspects of the production. The set design team has the responsibility of creating a dynamic set that not only agrees with the consistent theme and genre of the production but is also easy to lift and quick to assemble and disassemble. Read this blog to learn how you can better design your set for efficiency, functionality and, ultimately, success.

Before you dive into what you need and want for your next set design, decide what you don’t need and want. Rid the possibility of any clutter in your set design or on your stage, as it’s distracting to the audience and can get in the way of your production. Every piece, prop, and accessory is placed on set for a reason! Don’t include unnecessary or superfluous items in your set. Decide what you really need, and scratch the small details that you think are unimportant to the plot of the story.

 

 

Think about the size and weight of your props. Heavy props may lead to someone tripping, dropping something, or causing an accident on set. When props are included in any scenes, lightweight materials really come in handy. Heavy props can make it look like the actor is struggling to move or pick up something, and you wouldn’t want them to struggle or stumble. As the curtain is up, ensure all main props used by actors are light enough and easy to manage.

 

 

Investing in materials that are lightweight will allow for ease and efficiency throughout every aspect of the production. It makes switching scenes a breeze for the set and crew. When your materials are lighter, the team can move more quickly and easily. This keeps your audience more engaged with less waiting time between scenes and transitions. Consider lightweight wood, plastic materials, and props that can hang or be put in place effortlessly.

 

 

Consider your stage, the seating of your audience, and the auditorium you’ll be in when performing. This will help you plan your set design. You want to make sure your props are visible from all angles and seats in the house.

 

 

If you’re looking for a backdrop to put the finishing touch on your set design, consider renting a backdrop. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart are easy to hang, durable, lightweight, and absolutely stunning. You can find a backdrop for almost any production imaginable in the inventory.

 

Think outside the box with your set design. Just because your props will be lightweight and easy to manage does not mean they can’t be intricate and unique. Decide on a theme for your set design. Are you going with the “less is more” theme? Or are you going to include simple yet multiple props in every scene? Each production will entail a different set design.

 

Did you enjoy this blog? Share this to your Facebook feed, and let us know what you think. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames, and scrims to choose from.