Stage Designs of Richard Finkelstein

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Richard Finkelstein
630 Stonewall Dr
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Finkelstein Stage Designs - simplified resume
Dance Photography by R. Finkelstein
Dance Artwork by Richard Finkelstein


Fine Arts Photography by R. Finkelstein



R. Finkelstein - web designs

Set Design and Lighting Design by R. Finkelstein

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is © 2012 R. Finkelstein


Peter Pan - Scenic Design by R. Finkelstein - The The New York State Theatre Institute presented this production in Albany NY for two seasons followed by a tour to Moscow Russia. Depicted below are views of the Home Underground. Pirate Ship and a painters elevation of one of the mushroom groundrows.





Depicted below is the painters' elevation of the home underground mushroom.

Depicted Below: Performers in Red Square and the poster advertising our show.
Even if you can't read Russian you can recognize my name. It is the long one.


This production was mounted as part of a tenth anniversary celebration of the birth of The New York State Theatre Institute. It was also a property with a lot riding on it, and a lot of history as well. It represented a third-generation passing of the torch, as it were.

Ten years earlier, for the inauguration of the $100,000,000 "Egg" at The Nelson A Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, Donald Oenslager had been hired to design the gala production of Peter Pan. This was a very big deal. The facility, one of the most unusual buildings ever built in the world had taken 13 years to build, and it itself was part of a complex so large and unusual that it was the largest building complex in America’s history. The theatre itself, seating 1,000 was largely hanging off into space, supported at only three points, seven stories above "ground" that in itself was atop another 5-story structure. The complex was designed by Harrison & Abromowitz, known for such landmarks as The UN building and the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center.

I was brought in by Mr Oenslager’s associate, Klaus Holm, who I had studied with at Wilkes College. I was to supervise the mounting of the production as well as the opening of the theatre.

Tragedy struck though. Donald Oenslager died early in the process. This was the last project he had worked on. The design reins were taken up then by my teacher, Klaus Holm, who completed the design based on the research that Donald Oenslager had assembled for the project. The show was a very great success.

However, the scenery did not survive the next ten years in storage. It also had a dated feel. Times had changed.

While working on Amadeus at NYSTI, I made the proposition to the producer that if they were ever to mount the production again, I was interested in producing it within the idiom of The Art Nouveau. Years earlier they had rejected a similar proposal, but this time they took me up on my offer. I had been somewhat of a scholar on James Barrie. I had read all of his plays and had spent years researching in particular the intricacies of the genesis of Peter Pan. I had always felt strongly that Art Nouveau sensibilities were central to the interpretation of the work. It was quite exciting for this designer to be allowed to lead in the interpretation of the production.

I also used the opportunity to pay homage to the two generations before me that had pioneered design work at The Institute, Oenslager and Holm. In this sense the basic mode of production was traditional. The innovation came in the Art Nouveau style used.

The show was very successful, and it later became the second theatre production to be invited from America to be presented in Russia since the start of the cold war. (The first production too had been produced by The New York State Theatre Institute, The musical Ragedy Ann, presented two years earlier in Albany, Moscow, & on Broadway)

With the international scope of this project, the idea was to present a production also of grand scope. This was also necessitated by the sheer size of the facility that was hosting our work in Moscow. Natalia Sats’ theatre had a stage exactly the size of The Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and had much of the same technical facility. I did not want our set to be lost in such a space, so I designed to every inch of the much smaller theatre house in The Egg.

Description of the Settings:

There were about seven different sets presented in this production. In the portfolio, I show two of the most striking as examples. It was presented in a traditional wing and drop style but made extensive use of cut drops and interesting three dimensional forms.

The stage itself was framed in an elaborate cut portal design depicting the gate to Kensington Gardens in homage to the genesis of Peter Pan. Within this frame, there were portals for each of the major sets.

The nursery set was kept very simple in form. It was made to look almost like a children’s doll house. It was designed in perspective so as to maximize the much smaller real space available. The idea was to present a handsome environment that would not call much attention to itself. Almost like the situation in The Wizard of Oz, the idea was to present a rather mundane environment allowing for a burst of magic as the action moves to other dimensions.

Except for the main structure of the pirate ship, the rest of the scenes were designed to be of maximum contrast to the nursery. The home underground was based on a very complex multi-raked structure. The model for this architecture was the work of Spanish architect, Gaudi.

Of interest in this scene is the home of Tinkerbell. In traditional productions, she lives in a stump. I never bought this. Tink is a prima dona. She NEVER would live in a stump! In our edition she lived in a glowing dodecahedral crystal.

The forests of Neverland were presented using a series of whiplash-lined Nouveau cut drops and a very organic ramp of moss.

The ship was actually based on a re-orientation and re-clad facade of the home underground. The challenge was to render the organic forms, rectilinear. The portals in this scene are inspired by a motif pioneered by Erté.