Behind The Scenes of Cinderella: An Interview with Mr. Fisher About The Splendor of the Set Design

by Ayan Rahman ’20

Tech’s annual Spring Musical has ended with a bang and every aspect of the show was beautiful. From the acting to the singing to the live music, it was spectacular.

One aspect of the show may have been overshadowed by all that was explicitly presented to the audience- the magnificent set design. Perhaps it could be as essential as to call it the backbone of the show; all the efforts by Mr. Fisher and the Architecture students surely paid off.

Interestingly, the set design required the application of a good deal of engineering principles. It also had to consider time and budget constraints. Mr.Fisher, the Director of Set Design for Cinderella stated in an interview:

The first step in building the set is to establish the design.  That process begins by reading the libretto which gives details about each scene, reviewing the notes about the time period and setting, and discussing the vision that director of the production has for the specific show.  From there each scene can be developed which includes individual set pieces that make up a cohesive design.  The challenge of designing the set comes from the constraints within which we must work.  Some of these include budget, time, size of the stage, and complexity of the story.”  

The process of designing set objects was a team effort involving students from both the Industrial Design and Architecture Major. He mentioned how the Industrial Design group utilized their skills in AutoDesk Inventor to apply researched images and videos in creating digital models of the individual parts they needed. From there, the Architecture group used experience in shop to create the physical models. And a similar process was used for the overall set design, where the team used AutoDesk Revit to design what the final platforms, staircases,various walls, and other set pieces would look like; afterwards they worked in the wood lab to construct the digital models.

Both engineering design principles and physical mechanics were used in the design of the auditorium and stage, the rigging that holds up the curtain, lights, backdrops, and scenery, and even the design of the set pieces that the cast used. It was also imperative to understand the science of how light and color interact as well as sound engineering to assure a well balanced look and feel of the show for the audience. And to wrap up, Mr.Fisher also mentioned the practical and entertaining objects used in the play. He explained:

“From a more practical standpoint, things like doors, windows, and in the case of Cinderella—a carriage—all have to function and hold up to the abuse dictated by the story.  Doors are often one of the most challenging pieces to design because they are built into what is inherently a temporary and often mobile structure, but still need to withstand very dramatic entrances and slamming by the cast.  Designing a set that is both lightweight so it can be moved, but still strong and stable is very similar to the principles of structural efficiency that is taught in civil engineering courses.”  

In the end, the engineering students of Tech along with Mr. Fisher have worked so hard and with much dedication. It was all reflected in the final product during the shows and produced a professional looking set. Thank you so much to Mr. Fisher and the engineers of Tech!

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