This Fall we had the pleasure of designing & producing a set of custom stage props for legendary rockers and longtime clients KANSAS. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their sophomore “Point of Know Return” album, the headlining tour is the first time fans have heard the entire record played live, and in over 80 cities in North America.
The band came to us with the last-minute idea of incorporating song lyrics and content in a fun and memorable way, and provide some Easter eggs for die-hard Kansas fans – custom set pieces for the close of the show – a tombstone, a park bench, and an antique writing desk.
We faced several logistical challenges in producing these items (not the least of which was an incredibly-tight 2-week timeline). The stage pieces had to look realistic enough to be downstage (right up front), durable enough to hold up to 80+ shows all over North America, and they had to travel well small and set-up quickly.
Never ones to back down from a challenge, our team got right to work, delivering all three custom props in a custom-built road case.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each set piece we designed and built:
Built-to-scale, we constructed the headstone from several layers of foam and hand-carved a shape we designed digitally, complete with the last name “Winchester” (a tie-in for fans of the “Supernatural” TV show.)
The carved stone was then hand-painted with several layers to achieve the look of well-weathered granite, and accented with a few broken edges.
The stone sits perpendicular to a square wooden base, covered in realistic grass, weeds, moss, and dirt.
The vertical stone detaches from the base for safe travel between tour stops, and assembles in seconds.
Antique Writing Desk
The band had a very specific look they were going for with this piece, requiring a writing desk with details from a particular era.
The biggest challenge was making sure it could fold down flat for travel yet assemble quickly and easily.
Our team devised a great solution – the legs detach and travel in the cavity of the upside-down desk top (hidden from the audience by a false drawer front), and re-attach with just one bolt & wing-nut per leg.
Levelers were added to the base of each leg to ensure stability on uneven stages.
The one seemed like the most straightforward of the three stage props.
We were tasked with producing a realistic park bench that looked like it was built of weather 2x4s on poured concrete bases.
It also had to be lightweight enough to be moved easily by a stage hand, with a specific width (about half the length of a typical park bench), and rugged enough for the road.
The base was made from plastic and hand-painted to resemble poured concrete. The slats are actually plastic beams textured to look like 2x4s as well.
Despite the lightweight construction, it’s strong enough to hold two adults.
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Our team had a great time with this project and enjoy the challenge of custom stage props and set piece building. If you’re looking for custom stage prop builders or set designers, you know where to find us. We’d love to discuss your project and see if we can help!