With every new production, we create an entire world from scratch. The big picture–floors and ceiling, grass and sky–is often the first thing to grab an audience member’s attention when the curtain goes up, but without attention to detail, the world is unlikely to engage either the performers telling the story or the audience taking it in. As we enter the final stages of rehearsal for King for a Day, set and costume designer Court Watson has been working on a few small, but important, items that combine research, fantasy, and his own quirky sensibilities.

What kind of champagne might the status-obsessed Baron Kelbar serve in the 1960s?

Why, his own private label, of course!Champagne-Label

The production’s Polish “King” is an imposter, but he has all of his papers in order.


And he’s ready to skip town on a moment’s notice.Flight-Ticket-EnvelopeFlight-Ticket

No detail is too small to consider–not even the number at the upper right corner of the ticket. Can you catch all the references?

Perhaps my favorite of the paper props is this letter. Not only does it contain a Polish translation of a section of the libretto, it uses the coat of arms and actual signature of the Polish king on whom the whole story is loosely based.

This may seem like a lot of effort for an item that may not “read” from all seats in the house, but this kind of detail is crucial to the overall success of the production, says Court: “It gives the singers something to play with, for, and against as needed.” And of course, in our intimate Alice Busch Opera Theater, these details actually¬†are visible from many locations.

This is only a small sampling of the work that has gone into creating the zany, zippy world of King for a Day. Buy your tickets today…and keep your eyes peeled for more of Court’s work!



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