Fil-Am designs sets for The Temptations’ Broadway bio | Inquirer
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fil-Am designs sets for The Temptations’ Broadway bio

/ 12:11 AM February 27, 2019

 

Robert Brill’s final constructed set of the building facade for “Ain’t Too Proud.” MATTHEW MURPHY

NEW YORK — Theatergoers will once again see the work of Filipino American set designer Robert Brill on Broadway this year.

He designed the sets of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” a musical about the all-male African American R&B group, which has previews beginning February 28.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, Brill worked on the sets of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” The show closed in December and is preparing for a national tour later this year.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Set designer Robert Brill worked on Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations.” CONTRIBUTED

“It’s been really incredible!” Brill says. “I’m so grateful to be a part of two very special projects.

“I love developing new work, and to have the chance to bring two exciting musicals to Broadway within the span of a year is rare. Am trying to savor every moment!”

Brill’s Broadway credits include “Buried Child,” “Assassins,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Guys and Dolls,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Cabaret.”

Filipino mom

Brill became involved with “Ain’t Too Proud” through director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo. The trio previously worked on “Summer” together.

“I’m really fortunate to have great champions like Des and Sergio” he says.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rough sketch of set design idea for a building facade (left) beside detailed computer rendering. CONTRIBUTED

“We’ve collaborated on many projects together, starting back when I had just graduated from the University of California-San Diego and Des was artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse.”

Brill, whose mother is Filipino, took up theater and is a native of Salinas, California. He was a cofounder of Sledgehammer Theatre when he was still in college.

“Since then, we’ve worked together on more than 20 plays, operas, and musicals that have been presented internationally, regionally throughout the US, and on Broadway.”

Deep dive

“Des introduced me to Dominique Morisseau’s script back in 2016. It was clear from the first read that this was something special.”

“The opportunity to do a deep dive into the music and the history of the Temptations was hard to believe!

Brill remembers his parents listening to the music of the Temptations. “Getting reintroduced to their music was wonderful in so many ways, as it was both nostalgic and at the same time, an incredible history lesson.”

Brill designed the set of the opera “Everest.” CONTRIBUTED

“It’s hard to single out any one of their songs. That’s kind of the beauty of the show, their catalog of music is a not just a powerhouse of hits, but a rich tapestry that has spanned more than five decades. It’s pretty overwhelming and inspiring.”

Memory and movement

“The evening is a memory play, so our goal was to provide details in a shifting theatrical landscape,” he explains.

“Because there have been 22 members of the Temptations that have come and gone over the past five decades, Des had a strong feeling that the design should takes its cue from entrances and exits—both literally and metaphorically.”

Brill says that “delivery and motion onstage” was the starting point for the musical’s look and feel.

“Before we knew what the show might look like, we knew that it would be kinetic.”

Motown

He went on to research images of Detroit, where the Temptations was formed and the original home of Motown Records—the African American-owned music label that handled the Temptations’ music.

Brill and the artistic team then used a scale model of the set as well as a virtual model. “This allowed us to create over 160 pages in storyboards and plans.”

Visual design collaborators include costume design by Paul Tazewell, hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe, lighting design by Howell Binkley and projection design by Peter Nigrini.

The musical opened at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California in 2017. Last year, it toured Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles; and Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto.

“The set is being adapted and custom fit to the Imperial Theatre. And while it will look familiar, we’ve added a few elements that will enhance the Broadway production,” says Brill.

Brill’s set design for the opera “Everest” is currently being remounted by Calgary Opera and he is currently designing Lauren Yee’s play “The Great Leap” for American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” previews begin Feb. 28 at Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th St., New York. Visit Ainttooproudmusical.com.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
TAGS: Fil-Am set and costume designer, music, set design, stage production
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.




We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.