Audience Accolades and setting the stage

Posted by Molly MacLagan, Literary and Dramaturgy Intern.

Audience members continue to rave about Willy Holtzman’s The Morini Strad.  If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, act quickly!  The show closes on December 12, and there’s less than a week to catch it!  For some reasons to check it out, read the enthusiastic audience responses below:

“I want to tell you how much I enjoyed… The Morini Strad.  I [cried] at least four times throughout the production!  The writing, the setting, the actors, and the music were superb.  Thank you, all, for such a deeply satisfying experience… as all your plays are.”
Jeanie S.

“Thank you for the wonderful production of The Morini Strad…  It was a remarkable performance by two extremely talented actors, with the assistance of Tony Ferrieri’s innovative and very attractive set and the sound design of Brad Peterson.  The result was both gripping and entirely believable.  City Theatre productions never fail to entertain, move, and amuse us.  Thanks so much for seeing that our time (and money) are so well spent!”
Diane and Graeme E.

Tony Ferrieri’s set for The Morini Strad has been the subject of much praise, and with good reason!  With so much attention going to this beautiful and innovative set design, we thought that Tony’s two cents on creating it would be almost as interesting as the set itself.  The resident scenic designer at City Theatre, Tony has been affiliated with City Theatre for 31 years!  He has designed the scenery for The Blonde, the Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Speak American,  and The Brothers Size, among many others.  Next on the list for Tony, he’ll be designing the set for Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet.

Literary and Dramaturgy Intern Molly MacLagan caught up with Tony to pick his brains about The Morini Strad.  Here’s what he had to say:

Molly MacLagan:  When you receive the script for a show you’re designing, what is the first thing you do after reading it?

Tony Ferrieri: I begin doing research [in this case] on Erica Morini and on the various locations in the play.  For The Morini Strad that was researching locations like Upper West Side NY apartments,  Mount Sinai Hospital rooms, Violin maker and repair workshops including images of Brian’s actual workshop and visiting Phillip’s workshop here in Pittsburgh, Mannes School of Music, the violin; in particular the Morini Stradivarius… etc.

MM: What was your first thought about the scenic design when you read The Morini Strad?

TF: Because of the sound of violin music I thought that the lines of the set needed to be curved rather than hard lines.  The violin is also a curved and beautiful piece of sculpture as well,  if you will, so I wanted to in some way use those curves and shapes in the design of the set as well.

The floor level of the set for The Morini Strad

MM: Which aspect of designing for The Morini Strad excited you the most?

TF: Mostly I just loved the play!  I love plays that relate to the human condition.  Plays that are about people and real situations and realistic relationships and real life situations.

MM: Which aspect of it was the least appealing?

TF: Really only the need for multiple locations.  It is difficult, especially in the smaller Lester Hamburg space to achieve that in a set design, especially sets that require a bed to be onstage!

Note the dreaded bed - a creative solution to a difficult problem Tony faced when designing.

MM: My favorite parts of the design are the echoes of the violin itself in the set – the strings and the violin-shaped platform.  How did you make the decision to essentially create a violin as the world where the characters would be playing?

TF: It just really made the most sense for the play to in some way incorporate the shapes and curved lines of the violin in the set design. The Violin is like a third character in this play and is central to the plot and the story.  So we decided to, sort of, deconstruct the violin use those lines and I used those shapes and different elements and parts of the violin in designing the set.

Notice the echoes of a violin in the set design.

MM: What is your favorite part of the final set?

TF: I am so pleased with the design and really love the whole design so much but if I had to choose one thing I think my favorite part would be the “strings”.  They create a frame around the set and the playing area and in particular my favorite part is the four piece [of violins]; the full violin, the scroll with the fingerboard, the bridge and the tail piece hanging from the strings USL.  It is the extra salt in the ocean!

The platform level is Brian Skarstad's violin repair shop, complete with violin pieces hanging from the strings that frame the set.

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