Bi-Level Sets

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Bi-Level Sets#1
Posted: 8/5/19 at 10:51am

The recently revived discussion of the set for Titanic has me wondering how many shows have used a bi-level set design. I'm not referring to sets where most of the action takes place on the stage floor and one or two characters occasionally appear on a small balcony or similar that overlooks the main floor (e.g., Hadestown, West Side Story); I'm talking about a wing-to-wing, bi-level set. The only other show I can think of was the original production of Sunset Boulevard. Are there any others?

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Bi-Level Sets#2
Posted: 8/5/19 at 10:55am
THE HUMANS demands a 2 level set, as action is constantly taking place on both spaces independently of each other.
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Bi-Level Sets#3
Posted: 8/5/19 at 11:02am

Lots of the action of Sweeney Todd takes place on two levels simultaneously.

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Bi-Level Sets#4
Posted: 8/5/19 at 11:25am

VotePeron said: "THE HUMANS demands a 2 level set, as action is constantly taking place on both spaces independently of each other."

I never saw this play, but I Googled the set design and it reminded me that the recent Boys in the Band revival used a similar approach.

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Bi-Level Sets#5
Posted: 8/5/19 at 11:34am

As do Rent and Next to Normal, as well.

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Bi-Level Sets#6
Posted: 8/5/19 at 11:49am

Noises Off!

August: Osage County

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Updated On: 8/5/19 at 11:49 AM
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Bi-Level Sets#7
Posted: 8/5/19 at 11:56am

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

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Bi-Level Sets#8
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:00pm

the revival of Ragtime.

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Bi-Level Sets#9
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:02pm

BrodyFosse123 said: "Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets
"

What are these from?

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Bi-Level Sets#10
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:06pm

Did Pillowman have a second level that they used?

The original Company.

Next to Normal

 

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Bi-Level Sets#11
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:11pm

Next to Normal and It Shoulda Been You come to mind

 

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Bi-Level Sets#12
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:14pm

theatregeek6 said: "Next to Normal and It Shoulda Been You come to mind"

I forgot about It Shoulda Been You!

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Bi-Level Sets#13
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:25pm
The recent revival of The Boys In The Band
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Bi-Level Sets#14
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:43pm

The Great Comet would also qualify I think. There were like 9 levels to that stage haha. 

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Bi-Level Sets#15
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:44pm
Updated On: 8/5/19 at 12:44 PM
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Bi-Level Sets#16
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:48pm

Lot666 said: "BrodyFosse123 said: "Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets
"

What are these from?
"

 

The first: The Humans

The second: August: Osage County

The third: This Flat Earth (I think)

The fourth: She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Revival)

 

Hope this helps :)

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Bi-Level Sets#17
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:51pm

mrCellophane said: "Brighton Beach Memoirs/Broadway Bound"

Thank you, this is a good example of the set concept I was referring to, i.e., the characters on the first level cannot see or interact with those on the second level because they are in completely distinct spaces. 

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Bi-Level Sets#18
Posted: 8/5/19 at 12:58pm

Erzlump said: "Lot666 said: "BrodyFosse123 said: "Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets

Bi-Level Sets
"

What are these from?
"


The first: The Humans

The second: August: Osage County

The third: This Flat Earth (I think)

The fourth: She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Revival)

Hope this helps :)
"

Thanks for the clarification. Based on these images, it appears that The Humans and The Flat Earth did have wing-to-wing bi-level stages. On the other hand, the August: Osage County set is only partially bi-level, and She Loves me only had a balcony, which is effectively in the same space as the main set/stage floor.

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Bi-Level Sets#19
Posted: 8/5/19 at 1:33pm

Bi-Level Sets

And then there is Grand Hotel, which in its Broadway production had a bi-level set. The upper floor housed the orchestra, but as far as I am aware (or read somewhere) also some of the action took place on the second floor?? I could only find two pictures of the model set. Bi-Level Sets

Updated On: 8/5/19 at 01:33 PM
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Bi-Level Sets#20
Posted: 8/5/19 at 1:47pm

Erzlump said: "And then there is Grand Hotel, which in its Broadway production had a bi-level set. The upper floor housed the orchestra, but as far as I am aware (or read somewhere) also some of the action took place on the second floor?? I could only find two pictures of the model set."

That's a really beautiful set and you can see how the design would create a sense of sweeping space to suggest a "grand' hotel lobby. That said, it does seem a bit sad to have the second floor space utilized solely to house the orchestra.

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Bi-Level Sets#21
Posted: 8/5/19 at 1:59pm
Days of Rage at 2nd stage had a 2 level set.
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Bi-Level Sets#22
Posted: 8/5/19 at 2:16pm

bandit964 said: "DidPillowmanhave a second level that they used?

The originalCompany.

Next to Normal


 

Yes to Pillowman.  Roundabout's revival of Company in the mid-90s also used a bi-level set.  

Act One had a multi-level set that added to the story.  Poor Santino Fontana must have been exhausted after every show from constantly running  up and down the stairs.  If I recall, MTC's revival of The Royal Family also used a bi-level set.
"

 

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Bi-Level Sets#23
Posted: 8/5/19 at 2:27pm

The original Kinky Boots used a design similar to Sweeney Todd's, with a revolving giant cube that could represent various interior locations, with the top of it being Sweeney's barber shop/Charlie's office. Not what you were asking exactly, but the set piece was a near-constant presence onstage in both productions.

For non-musicals, especially "kitchen sink dramas" like The Humans, a two-level set is pretty common in order to have the first floor of the house and second floor of the house simultaneously visible to the audience. As someone pointed out, August: Osage County demands a three-floor house set.

Noises Off is a full-stage two level set that needs to flip around!

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Bi-Level Sets#24
Posted: 8/5/19 at 2:45pm

The Distinctive Baritone said: "The original Kinky Boots used a design similar to Sweeney Todd's, with a revolving giant cube that could represent various interior locations, with the top of it being Sweeney's barber shop/Charlie's office. Not what you were asking exactly, but the set piece was a near-constant presence onstage in both productions."

I had to Google the Kinky Boots set because I couldn't recall what you described, but after seeing some pics, I remember it. As you said, it's not exactly what I was referring to, but it is an interesting design. 

 

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Bi-Level Sets#25
Posted: 8/5/19 at 3:24pm

The set design for "Best Little Whore House in Texas" also calls for a bi-level set with parts of the second level seen from below and other parts separate.