Naturally, we’re extremely proud of the work we produce, from the smallest project to the largest, each deserves the same attention to detail.

Lyric Opera Chicago - The Magic Flute

Lyric Opera Chicago - The Magic Flute

The house has a built in truck base of 10x7m on triple swivel castors and is designed with a full sized slave truck for storage in the theatre meaning the entire house is fully manoeuvrable. Featuring fully practical sash windows, doors and shutters, the house is made entirely of steel and aluminium frames clad in ply and timber. Thanks to the luxury of our large fit-up area we were able to fully assemble the house (bar one roof piece that wouldn’t quite fit!) before completely breaking down the set into flat-packed pieces and loaded out of CTS into 6 shipping containers before being re-assembled on stage in Chicago. And the best bit? The whole of the second floor is built on the stage floor, lifted up on motors and lowered (carefully!) onto the fully assembled first floor in the theatre. Needless to say this was both a challenging project in terms of engineering ability and carpentry skills but we think it looks great!


The Scenic Art team were very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Theatre Designer Dale Fergusson again after working with him in the past on other projects.  Dales design for Magic Flute was based on a on the idea of a post WW2 American dream home. It had to be convincing in all areas from the tiles on the roof, to the clapper board cladding, the interior wallpapers, and even the flowers in the garden. We worked closely with Dale on the initial texture and paint samples to try and pitch all the finishes at the right level. We spent many hours refining and adjusting the colours and textures until we felt we achieved a natural look.

Working with Dale was experimental, organic, and intuitive in all the best ways, and it made the project very exiting for the scenic team. Dale wanted the garden to look and feel like his own grandmothers garden and we selected plants and flowers that were popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. He spent time with us arranging them. We also researched and ordered authentic vintage wallpapers some of which were over 50 years old. This made them tricky to apply at times as they were quite frail.

At first nobody could believe that it was necessary to treat every surface inside and out, but as you worked on the project you realised that you could see nearly all of the house inside and out, because there were so many windows and doors. Dale’s attention to detail was amazing and we found ourselves adding additional small details to guttering or windows all of which incrementally reinforced the believability of the house. It is difficult to convey    how strangely weird it felt being inside the house as day by day it became more like a real home. That feeling must have been even more intense as the props and furniture were added in Chicago. The Flute house was unique in that it was more like creating a real environment than any other project that we have worked on. Most sets are illusion. You walk around the back and you see braces, fixings, and location marks and the illusion is broken. The Flute house really was a house. A house that packed away into shipping containers that could be rebuilt anywhere. All surfaces were visible, all structure and fixings were hidden, and all surfaces were treated. The skill was in making it look real even though it was really a large flat pack house kit. Combining all of these factors made Flute a really great project to work on which brought out the best in the whole CTS team. 

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