I’ve seen a lot of community theater since studying acting in the late 70s. The set for I’m Not Rappaport is the most impressive set I’ve ever seen outside of professional theater. Center Playhouse is a small 49-seat theater with an equally small stage. The set designed by Cristina Peters includes a stone bridge and stone tunnel, park benches, trees, a lamp post, fallen leaves, and a painted floor mural. The amount of detail is incredible! The ambiance is that of a small hidden area within Central Park, a bit off the beaten path.
Cristina Peters studied art and decoration design in Romania. During her over 23 years prestigious career as a designer and decorator she established herself as a recognized artist and won several awards. Her art and sculpture is in private collections in Romania, France, Canada, and the USA. She has her own private art gallery in Freehold and is dedicated to show that art can have many different forms of expression. Her first involvement with Center Players was in December 2008 for the Jolly Trolley event. Since then she has participated in every major production of Center Players (The Odd Couple – The Female Version, Alice in Wonderland, The Queen B’s, Twentieth Century, Twelve Angry Men, Vagina Monologues, and now, I’m Not Rappaport) as set designer, set construction, set dressing, specialty props, special set features, and backstage crew. Cristina has become an invaluable and highly acclaimed contributor to Center Players.
Joan, I’m Not Rappaport’s co-stage manager, sent me this email about adding the set’s finishing touches:
“We all knew the vision, Cristina’s vision for the set of “I’m Not Rappaport”. We knew it not only because of her vivid description to us during auditions; but because of the scaled down version of the Central Park set she created in diorama form, characters and all, a week later. So here we are, spending Saturday morning with a small team of cast and crew members trying to do one better on Mother Nature. Me, Mimi, Bonnie, Sandi, Sami, Mark P and Cristina.
Just coming into the theatre this morning was a challenge, with real trees and branches piled all over; actual branches and trees downed by the rain storms in our area a month or so ago. We each were instructed to transform those branches and dead trees into the shrubbery of Central Park, using hot glue, real leaves, artificial leaves and paper leaves that Cristina had individually hand painted. As Christina drew and painted scenery, our little team of mothers nature glued hundreds of leaves. Who says we don’t recycle!
Not wanting to move too far from her vision, we would ask Cristina, “Is this right?” or “How does this look?” She would jokingly reply: “You’ve seen a bush before, haven’t you? As we finished each creation, she would add “maybe pinch that leaf” or ”add a few more here or there”, or “no, no, it has to look more natural”.
By 2:00pm, with the house lights down and the stage lights up, we viewed our creation. What was once ravaged and dead was now reawakened as our fabulous fall season foliage of Central Park. Mother Nature would be proud.
I can’t wait to see our audiences’ faces as they enter the lobby and see the envisioned set in the diorama on display. What’s more is the sense of awe they will feel as they enter the theatre area…. MAGIC!”