Unit sets for Moon Over Buffalo and Leading Ladies

Our local theatre company is hoping to do either Moon Over Buffalo or Leading Ladies next year. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on which is more difficult to stage. I know that both have more than one back drop, and I'd love to hear from other community theaters who have done both, which proved to be more difficult.

Btw, we did Lend Me a Tenor this last November and it was a huge success!

Thank you again,

Michael


Ken replies:


Dear Michael,

Thanks so much for writing. Congratulations on your production of Tenor last season!

I’m glad to hear that you’re looking at doing eitherMoon Over Buffalo or Leading Ladies and happy to answer your question about sets in detail.

Remember that both Moon Over Buffalo and Leading Ladies require only a unit set with simple alterations. Moon Over Buffalo opens on a stage during a rehearsal for Cyrano De Bergerac, so the furniture for the next scene can just be covered with dust clothes and form part of the battlefield where the first scene takes place. Whisk the dust clothes away and you're home free, in the Green Room of the theatre for Scene 2. Then, for the Private Lives scene later in the show, simply put up two urns of flowers and a divider and you're on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. I recently saw a community theatre production at Theatre on the Run in Roslyn, VA and they put on the show precisely as I’ve described. It worked great. My manager also saw a production of Moon Over Buffalo last month on a very small stage with a low ceiling and they did a fantastic job with the show using exactly these ideas for the set.

Leading Ladies is equally easy to stage. Again, it’s one set with a few alterations. The first scene in the Moose Lodge can be staged in front of the main set with a curtain behind if possible. You can also just light the actors differently to section off the front part of the stage. Once Doc says "we’re at the Moose Lodge," the audience believes him. Similarly, the scene in the train merely requires two chairs brought down front as though they are train seats and Audrey can skate on and off. No big set change is required. And of course, the telephone scene is just a matter of having Meg and Duncan at opposite ends of the stage holding telephones. I’ve seen Leading Ladies done this way in both professional and amateur theatres and in both cases, the effect has been just right.

I write my plays with all kinds of theatres in mind, knowing that many theatres will prefer shows with fewer sets. They can all be done in fine fashion with minimal adjustments to a single set.

Thanks again for writing and for the great question.

Please let us know which play you choose to stage and keep us posted on the process.

Thanks for being in touch!

Kind regards,

Ken

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