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There is SO much that goes on behind the scenes to make these incredible productions! Most people don’t think past the actors or musicians, but there are dozens of people who make every single item for the show – for example, sets and cosutmes! We caught up with set designer Michael Raiford and costume desinger Jeffrey Meek to talk about their phenomenal work with Lyric’s LES MISERABLES

Michael Raiford

1) What does a set designer do?
A Set designer is responsible for creating the physical environment you see. It should help you understand the story you are watching. It can provide physical clues such as location, history, season, and economics.  It can also provide a mood or feeling ranging from playful to menacing. In addition to being aware of how a set feels, we have to know how it will help the show function. It becomes a visual machine that allows the performers to tell the story of the show. Also, just maybe the set will give you a little thrill at the same time!  

2)  What was the biggest challenge in designing the LES MISERABLES set? 
Getting a show like Les Mis on Stage, with so many locations and expectations, is already a monumental take!  Add 100 voice chorus to it and you have a extraordinary challenge! That means you now have 130+ folks on stage that have to, at times, be seen and heard all at the same time. Finding a way to keep the large  chorus on stage, have them come and go visually, AND include a turntable, barricade and all the other elements the show requires was indeed a “Rubik’s Cube” of a challenge!  

3) Where did you find inspiration for designing the LES MISERABLES set?
The set was inspired by photos of churches in the 19th century being repaired. It was the wood scaffold structures that provided the perfect metaphor and device to drive the imagery for the show.  As a metaphor, we see the rebuilding of a society.  As a device, we are provided with many levels of open structure that allow us to house the large chorus on stage AND still maintain enough playing space for the show to function.  

Jeffrey Meek

1) Why do you enjoy working for Lyric?
Lyric gives me the chance to create with amazing artists from all over the country. It brings several artistic points of view together to create a cohesive night of theater.  I consider my fellow designers, the directors, cast, and technicians at Lyric to be my family.  We have to establish a sense of trust for all of us to feel safe to create an incredible night of theatre for OKC audiences.  

2) Describe, in layman’s terms, exactly what a costume designer does.
As a designer, I read the script and try to create looks for every person on stage.  Every costume must tell a story about the character.  What is the time period?  What is the season? How much money do they have?  What is their personality?  A designer must convey small stories that add to the overall plot of the musical.  

3) What is the most challenging aspect of the shows we’re doing this summer?  
We work very quickly. In nine days, we must organize all of the costumes for each production, coordinate fittings with each actor, do all alterations and finishing work for each costume and have costumes ready and pressed for audiences on opening night. Over the course of the 2014 season, we will build, fit and alter almost 1,000 costumes pieces for Lyric audiences.

4) What show are you most excited about this summer? Why?
The wardrobe crew began building Les Miserables in late January!  We have researched time periods, traveled the county in search of period fabrics and trims, spent countless hours patterning period garments and worked countless hours building beautiful costumes.  We are so excited to sit in the audience on opening night and share this remarkable theatrical journey with the people of Oklahoma City!