sweeney todd

so this quite possibly is in the wrong part of this forum, but hopefully if it is someone will direct me elsewhere. my question is regarding the show sweeney todd, i do not know if anyone has experienced working on this show but there are some very complex design issues that i have come in contact with. one of which is designing sweeney's chair in his barber shop. essentially he is supposed to murder his customer, the chair is supposed to flip through a floor board and a new identical chair is supposed to appear. my question is whether anyone has any idea as to how to build his shop so that at the very least it APPEARS that this happens, ive been contemplating it for weeks but i have no idea how to go about doing so... if anyone has any ideas i would appreciate it greatly, thank you.
if you can get identical chairs you can set up the scene on a platform instead of right on the stage and have a trap door in the platform and actually switch the chairs.
Well, also keep in mind that if one chair goes down and the other comes up a foot and a half US, no one is going to notice. So you need 2 chairs that go up and down right next to each other (on the Upstage/downstage line).

Difficult, yes, impossible, no.
Not completely the wrong part of the forum. Scenery Questions?

Instead of thinking two chairs, what about a single chair that with it's adjustment handle making it adjust, it turns the chair seat and foot support into a ramp.

In this instance, watching the video would help. Seen or been involved in a few producitons of the show and never seen the two chair concept. Instead in one form or another, it was a single swivel barber chair used with a hole in the deck that allowed the body to slip from the chair once pushed or it became a ramp, that allowed the body to slip off stage.

Renting such a chair might be a good idea. Otherwise were I engineering it, I would make the handle make the foot rest instead go flat to the floor in making this otherwise obstruction to making people slide from the chair hurt themselves. Otherwise with proper engineering the seat can also turn into a similar slide. Still the point is to make the person in the chair slip from the chair to a opening in the deck that upon lever, opens up in a laundry shoot type of way to allow the bodies to get to the basement. Ever important in this detail is also to make it safe for the actor to sit at one moment than slide down into the no doubt padded pit below the stage.

Otherwise if not able to do a platformed barber shop allowing for a pit, I might allow for say a upstage wall's trap door that opens in allowing Sweeney to push the body out of the chair and into the trap door laundry shoot thus off stage. Get the idea? Part of the action and effort in this play is that effect of industrial production of meat for the pie shop below. Unless you show how easy it is to remove the bodies mechanically and cleanly, and instad go for some type of Poof! Second chair, wicked witch type changing effect, you are not going to get the design intent of the factory slaughter of people for their meat. In this show, show how he removes the bodies. Don't know where you are reading of a second chair a few feet away, but I assure you that it would not be my intent as a designer.
That is the first time I've heard of it being done otherwise, which is most possibly because all of the research I have done has been more on the historical figure than on the actual production of the show, I'm just getting to the point where I'm starting to design. Regardless, that sounds like it should work beautifully, it'll be interesting to engineer, but I'm sure we can work something out. Thank you so much for your advice!
Remember always that the show design in figuring out problems and concepts should be at all times your own. Never is possible observe other peoples designs and work in your design. But where it comes to a mis-interpetation of the script as I'm sure it must be, such asking or viewing of how others solved specific problems much less for more ideas expressed on your own it's not a bad thing.

First read the play many more than three times by which time you take notes on the details. Than gauge your design world upon the director's intent. Than when faced with a problem in design that's more detail in how to design than governing a major concept of your's verses someone else's go with looking if even for a moment into how others solve the problems. This is a last resort in you otherwise figuring out the how to of.

Images and videos of old and related shows can help to provide ideas for specivic problems. Just don't view the solutions before you design for your intent. Than those past productions only provide a curiostiy and solve to specific problems.

Past productions of the show it a valid thing to look for, just as a last resort.
yay for someone who agrees with me on that, my director has a tendency to assume that watching a show is the best way to figure out how to design it. ive never entirely agreed, i prefer a similar method to what you just stated, for this specific question it was just something that i couldnt seem to come up with anything for, so i figured asking now would be a good way to at the very least get some ideas as to how other people would try to work through the problem. so yep, yay! thanks.
Excellent point by ship – Decide how you want your design to look before you see other versions. Just because the Broadway or touring version was done something one way doesn't mean your production must look like it. I suspect most of the audience hasn't even seen the play in the first place. (I just saw a professional production of The Marriage of Figaro – But the set was a modern Las Vegas Hotel rather than the 18th(?) Century Italian (?) manor as originally written. Minimal stage and wonderful (IMO) lighting effects.)

But consider all possibilities – maybe the victim can be dumped off the side of the chair; maybe (careful on this one) tip it backward and headfirst down a ramp to a "run-out"; maybe the chair has to be moved to a point where it can be tipped; maybe you can't do much with the chair, but can roll the victim onto something more easily engineered, moved, and tilted, like a gurney; maybe you can lower/pivot the chair and floor below stage, jettison the actor, then bring the same chair up. (I just noticed how disturbed this post must look.)


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