Based on the 2004 novel of the same name, Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 2011. A year later, it made its Spring debut on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The cast and crew landed nine Tony Award Nominations for the 2012 ceremony. Included was Set Designer Donyale Werle, one of the five wins of the evening. Donyale Werle, a seasoned scenic designer and co-chair of the pre/post-production committee for the Broadway Green Alliance with a focus on sustainability in the arts, was tasked with designing the set for Peter and the Star Catcher. When it came time to design, she imagined everything being built with mostly salvaged items. She knew her surroundings were full of used materials to find, but the key was knowing where to look.
She visited Disney’s warehouse hangar in Rochester, New York to search through their storage facility. Most items were from retired shows whose tours were long since complete. She thought, ‘Why not use some of these items?’ The haul consisted of a 2,156 square-foot rear projection screen and over 600 yards of Mermaid fabric (thanks to The Little Mermaid tour). Along with these warehouse finds, The New York Theater Shop donated lumber, and they acquired materials from an old Macy’s Christmas window display. Finally, in the places you least expected, Donyale and her team regularly went dumpster diving. They found one of their most victorious finds: doors to a bodega that had caught on fire that were laying amongst a bunch of garbage. These burnt doors were salvaged and used on the actual set.
As for the proscenium of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, ShowFab helped echo the set. Our scenic artists went to the theater to study each leaf and pattern, in order to duplicate every detail of Donyale’s vision. We then started creating the architectural details using various items like corks, kitchen timers, plates, utensils, palettes, buttons, zippers, ropes, and chains. To mimic the original textures of the proscenium our team crinkled up newspapers and plastic bottles. Once it was all melded together, we finished the set in gilded gold.
We are so grateful that we were part of a beautiful project, helping create the magic onstage in such a sustainable way. From concept to installation, working with Donyale and her team was an experience the ShowFab FAM will never forget!