Props: Beauty and the Beast mirror

  

 Since costuming A Christmas Carol (and building and working The Ghost of Christmas Future, which I’ll have to post pictures of at some point), we’ve now started the Junior production: Beauty and the Beast, the Disney musical. It’s adorable really. Plus, as we’ve hired most of the costumes from a local youth theatre group who did it a few years ago, it’s almost stress-free.

 
A few pieces aren’t supplied with the costume hire or the staging hire, so I’ve put together a few things with the help of my Backstage Club. The Magic Mirror is one of them.   

From these reference photos, the mirror has certain features that need to be replicated: the applied detail at top and sides, the ‘beast’ face at the join between mirror and handle, some crossover vine details around the handle, and the fleur-de-lys on the back.

    
I started by cutting two mirror shapes from corrugated card. The top one I cut out the recess that the mirror would sit in. As this is a kids stage show, I just used a layer of tinfoil between the layers to create the mirror. I used PVA glue in a decent layer to glue the layers together. 

  
 Next, using the reference pictures to design them, I cut out the shapes for the sides, top and handle. These were then also stuck on with PVA, front and back, and left to dry. 
Then comes the papier-mâché. I’ve discovered that the hair tinting accessory kits you get from the Pound Shop are ideal for holding the PVA-water mix (about two parts water to one of PVA) and brushing it on. Nice. Paint the mix onto the card, then apply your paper. Note: I needed a smooth finished surface for this project, which is why I should have used newspaper. However, I only had kitchen roll. Star Wars kitchen roll. It’s a bit rough, but covering the whole dried project in another layer of neat PVA generally fixes this. 

In any case, I applied a few layers of paper to the card, brushing the layers flat but making sure there was a lot of overlap of the paper to keep it strong. When sticking over the raised details, I made sure to stipple the brush closely around the raised areas and into crevices to make sure the paper didn’t hide the shape. 

  
I forgot to take pictures while I was papier-mache-ing, so here’s the glue mix instead.

Finally, after leaving to dry by the radiator overnight and then applying a coat of neat PVA to smooth the surface and prime for painting, I wanted to add some additional detail: the vines and facial features on the Beast ‘face’. For this I used Silicone Glue, applying it in a line through a nozzle where needed and leaving to dry. It dries to a hard-jelly-like substance that can then be painted. I also used it to add detail to an Elizabethan helmet I’m making for our next play, Much Ado About Nothing.

  
Now I’m just waiting for it to dry…

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Backstage Pass: assistant-directing the school play

I’ve just completed a week as Assistant Director on the school play, this year the 40s/50s-set musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’.

Backstage
Backstage

In a theatre, this means taking extra rehearsals, doing the Director’s admin, corralling the cast and crew, and liaising with technical staff to work out how to both make this an excellent production and keep the director happy.

Continue reading “Backstage Pass: assistant-directing the school play”