By Jamie Schor
It never ceases to amaze me how much one can enjoy a delightful dairy treat. I’m talking ice cream, you ol’ so and sos. I love it. I really love it. If I I could write a classic soft rock ballad about it and have Phil Collins bust it out, I would. It’s as American as chainsaws, roundhouse kicks to the face and actor Carl Weathers. America people, America. Anyway…
So, I thought for a special evening I would call up Meghan LaLonde to join me on this creamy encounter. Meghan is not just any normal human being. She has red hair, she’s from Texas and she doesn’t eat meat. She was also the Scenic Designer for the recent production of Young Frankenstein.
I grabbed my strawberry cheesecake ice cream dessert item that is named after a major snow storm and rhymes with gizzard. I shimmied my way over to dine al fresco with Ms. LaLonde.
Meghan began her journey of education not in theatre, but in engineering. She was an undergraduate engineering major at Texas A&M for her first three years. It took one scenic design elective to turn her whole universe upside down. She had found her passion and was not looking back. Maybe accounting. Maybe.
The most satisfying part of Meghan’s process is model making, to finally see her design lift from the page. Meghan was not only the set designer for ‘Young Frankenstein’, but she also designs all of the theatre posters. At one point in the summer, she was beginning her design process for Young Frankenstein, designing the poster for ‘Seduced’ all the while designing and building sets at Stagedoor Manor in Loch Sheldrake, NY. Days off were not an option.
As my spoon dove deeper into the belly of the beast of my ice cream dessert, I wanted to know more about the ‘Young Frankenstein’ set. I remember seeing the production on Broadway in 2008 and being overwhelmed by the lavish set. After several Skype sessions with Director Stacy Alley, it was decided that the set should reflect more of the silliness of the Mel Brooks film. It would contain smaller set pieces to compliment the various gags in the production.
“It’s my biggest project that I have been hands on working with”, stated Ms. LaLonde. “It’s very interactive for the actor with a lot switches and knobs.”
She would further comment that sometimes as a young designer there is a tendency to go overboard in the beginning of a design process; however, she simply states that, “I look for what the set actually has to have and I discuss with the director and listen to their needs. You have to prioritize with your budget. Even if you have a big budget, if the show only calls for a chair then that’s all you need. It can be a really nice chair. It doesn’t have to be picturesque, it’s all about what the show needs.”
I lowered the boom on her with my final question of “WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO WHEN YOU GRADUATE?” Okay. It wasn’t that dramatic, but she calmly explained to me that would would like to begin working as a scenic charge artist and one day work her way up and grab the brass ring, New York. The city could use a person like Meghan LaLonde…and Carl Weathers.