Lionel Bart's Oliver! is a icon of British theatre. For many, it's among other well-known musical theatre classics (think Les Misérables) as an introduction to the medium – it certainly was for me (I'm British, and Oliver! featured time and time again in the theatre experiences of my youth. My first active involvement in theatre was an elementary school production of the show – I played Fagin (it's as hysterical as it sounds, I believe my parents have a VHS somewhere in the attic), I then went on to direct the show in my final year at High School. Years later, I'm parodying some of its most notable songs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, I'm particularly excited about Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior adaptation of the show and, with this new work comes fresh ideas and vision – something our Scenic Projections truly capture. I'm thrilled to chat about this new resource with our illustrator, Brianna Spicer, and get some insight into the inspiration behind the artwork.
Lawrence Haynes (Marketing Manager): Hey, Brianna! Thank you for taking the time to chat about Oliver! JR. with me. I love what you've done with this show, and I'm excited to share some further insight with our theatremakers. Let's dive in to the art style and inspiration behind the show.
Brianna Spicer (Product Manager): The style of Oliver JR is a painterly cartoon. This is arguably one of the most stylized shows in our catalog. I focused on showing linework and simplified, flattened shapes with repeating pattern motifs. I actually made a brick, stone and wood repeating pattern to use throughout the settings. This helps to make the projections feel more harmonious and ensure that the style of each setting matches.
I got the style inspiration from my favorite children's storybook artist, Rebecca Green, who I highly recommend checking out [at this link] . She happens to be an alumni of Kendall College of Art & Design where I also went to school!
Lawrence: Beautiful – she obviously has a great educational foundation, I can see where you got your influences from. What about your favorite scene?
Brianna: One of my favorite scenes from Oliver! JR. is the Thieves' Kitchen. I like this one because it is borderline texture overload, with so much detail to look at. These details hopefully help accentuate the time period, like the vintage stove and butter churn.
Lawrence: What makes this scene so remarkable?
Brianna: I think this is an important scene since it's when many pivotal characters are introduced (Fagin, Bill Sikes, Nancy to name a few.) This setting of the Thieves Kitchen is packed with detail but is intended to stand up to a large cast positioned near it. (4) I designed it with the thought in mind that much of the screen may be obscured by actors, so if just certain detail and texture is seen, it should still convey the setting.
Lawrence: Fantastic. Thank you so much for letting us in to your process!
Brianna: Thank you.
Oliver JR. Scenic Projections are now available to license from Broadway Media. Learn more here.
The team at Broadway Media sat down with Aaron Rhyne, one of the world’s preeminent theatrical projection designers, to learn more about his A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder designs, and get some tips on what good design is all about.
In the first two months of 2019, Green Valley High School, Performing Arts Department in Nevada, piloted Broadway Media’s Scenic Projections for Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin.
Theatrical titles from Disney are a great way to introduce your students to theatre using characters and stories with which they are undoubtedly familiar. Combine them with a 60-minute or 30-minute Broadway Junior runtime and you’ve got yourself a show that’s easy to teach and fun for your kids to learn and perform!