Set Design

Theatrical Sets Designed, Constructed, and Lit by Mick Alderman


Coaster Theatre Productions, 2024

The outdoor setting of this Pulitzer Prize-Winning script - back porch of a private residence in a Chicago neighborhood - represented a departure from the typical interior scenic requirements, making for an interesting design challenge.

Set construction by Jerry Alderman.

Set painting by Juan Lira.


Coaster Theatre Productions, 2023

The technical complexity of this play necessitated an equally complex environment in which to unfold.  As cluttered as it may seem, during the course of the show the performers interacted with nearly every object on the stage.  The show's 1970s period setting inspired the exposed rock facade.

Set painting by Juan Lira.

Scrooge! The Musical

Coaster Theatre Productions, 2022

The first time a director had asked me to construct a bridge.  The original concept specified a 6-foot high span, but after I pointed out that the taller actors would be banging their heads on the lighting rig we opted for a 4-foot elevation.

Set painting by Juan Lira.

Set decoration by Patrick Lathrop.

Birds of a Feather

Ten Fifteen Productions, 2022

I was more or less given a blank slate for this one.  Most of the show takes place in the penguin enclosure of New York's Central Park Zoo.  Rather than try to approximate the real location, I went with a simple, original design more suited to the black box venue.  The hawk aerie stage right (photo left) was intended to represent a different Manhattan location, which also incorporated the existing staircase.

The Weir

Ten Fifteen Productions, 2020-2021

The layout of the pub itself was dictated by the director, but the details were left to me.  My goal was to suggest an oasis of warmth on a chilly Irish night.  The deer skull overlooking the scene gave it the crowning touch, I think -- both literally and metaphorically.

And Then There Were None

Coaster Theatre Productions, 2019

As director, I wanted the look to be stark and relatively bare, with very little color, as if the characters have been imprisoned.  The vertical lines on the walls further evoke the prison metaphor.  The checkered floor suggests a board game in which they are unwitting participants.

Set painting by Juan Lira.


Pier Pressure Productions, 2019

This was the first set I was asked to design for a show I was not directing.  It was a great deal of fun, considering the dystopian setting of the play.  The intent was to evoke an underground urban bunker, which the lead character has adopted as his permanent home.  Because he lives more or less alone there is a distinct lack of feminine influence.  Since the performance venue did not yet have a stage lighting system, lighting for the show was incorporated into the set itself and operated by the actor using practical wall switches, visible on the stage right wall (left side of photo).

Set construction by Jerry Alderman.

Set decoration by Susi Brown.

Noises Off!

Coaster Theatre Productions, 2018

As any set designer who's worked on this play can attest, this is one of the most challenging builds in live theatre.  Not only did we need to construct two stories with a maximum height of 14 feet, but the entire works had to rotate 180-degrees, twice, during the course of the show.  The former was accomplished using a few tricks of perspective; the latter solution is revealed in this video.

Structural engineering conceived and implemented by Jerry Alderman.

Don't Dress for Dinner

Coaster Theatre Productions, 2016

This is my favorite show I've ever directed, mostly because I consider it to be one of the funniest plays ever written.  The setting is a former barn that has been converted into a residence.  I made a concerted effort to incorporate that concept into the set design, creating sliding barn-style doors and using actual weathered wood planks for the walls.

Set construction by Jerry Alderman.

It's a Wonderful Life

The River Theater, 2001

While this one dates back a ways, I wanted to include it here because of its unique challenges.  As a director, I loathe making the audience wait in the dark during set changes, and this show calls for dozens of them.  My vision for this production was to create a set in which each scene would flow seamlessly into the next, without significant interruption.  In addition, it all had to be contained within a tiny black box venue.  The white screen beneath the bridge was used to rear project silhouettes of live performers for certain scenes.

Set construction by John Fenton.