What: “Diary of a Worm, A Spider and a Fly” children's musical
Where: Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
When: 7 p.m. Fridays; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 23
Tickets: $18 all seats. Discount vouchers at Hy-Vee supermarkets.
Information: 402-345-4849 or online at www.rosetheater.org
Jeff Stander has spent the summer looking at the world from a tiny bug's perspective, imagining how everyday objects could become a playground.
Stander, who teaches scenic design and technical theater at Doane College in Crete, Neb., was hired to create the set for the Rose Theater's production of “Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly.”
The Joan Cushing musical, based on the popular children's books by Doreen Cronin, contains messages about tolerance, personal growth and feeling different.
A milk carton becomes a school, a flyswatter is the base for a treehouse, a comb is a ladder — and a bandage box and soda can are also part of the landscape of Stander's colorful set.
“I worked with a scale model to help arrange the objects,” Stander said. “It was about trying things, going back and forth.”
Though he was not familiar with the books when hired, his nieces, ages 5 and 3, knew all about them, Stander said. He soon immersed himself in the world of insects and worms.
“I went out to the back yard, looked around, put on my observation goggles,” he said. “I compared a blade of grass to an ant running by and went from there. I took some liberties with scale to make things fit onto the stage and meet the show's requirements.”
The set is like a big jungle gym, with lots of stuff for actors to romp around on, Stander said.
An added challenge was knowing the show will tour nationally. All the scenic pieces must fit into a 24-foot semitrailer and be self-supporting onstage.
Though Stander had worked with guest director Rob Urbinati before, designing a set for “The 39 Steps” at Nebraska Repertory Theatre in Lincoln last summer, this is his first show at the Rose.
“It's been great,” he said. “We've changed almost nothing from the initial model, except to add a few things.”
Grant Hilgenkamp, the Rose's new technical director, and master carpenter Robert Hokanson built the set. Jennifer Lemcke was the scenic painter.
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