Where youth mixes up with street gangs, and Puerto Rican girls remind us of the things we forgot about romanticism… Where we listen to the story of Mambo, Jazz, and Rock’n’Roll, the legendary musical West Side Story takes over the stage of Zorlu PSM between March 1 and 18. We are listening to the visually festive story that has put 60 years behind them, from it’s set designer Paul Gallis.
Do you remember your emotional response when you first watched the movie of “West Side Story”?
I saw the movie for the first time when I knew that I was going to be part of this West Side Story Production. It mesmerized me right from the beginning. Until today the story evokes very deep feelings in me.
After the 60 years, what is the greatest power that attracts audiences?
The show is timeless. The overall package of dance, music, and acting is extremely strong, stronger than in any other musical.
What are the crucial components of the set?
I tried to capture a mood that was present in the fifties in America and I wanted to create spaces by keeping the lines as clear as possible. Some small details like the original cigarette packet or the Superman comic book give a certain naturalness to the whole design.
What is the biggest challenge for you when touring?
We adapt the Show for every theatre in respect to width or depth of the stage or the positioning of the set in relation to the audience. We do this in order to provide the performers in every city with the best platform possible for their performance. By doing so, we guarantee a perfect show to the audience.
Designing for the stage is extremely collaborative. Is it sometimes a battle of wills?
Yes it is, in some productions. But the opposite is true for West Side Story. The creatives worked together as a perfect team from the beginning until the end. Everybody knew that the overall work was more important than its parts. Sound, light, costume, makeup as well as set design – all of these components come together and form a perfect framework for the show.
How does the development of technology effect your approach in set design?
I am a big friend of technology that works invisibly. For West Side Story we use latest generation automation technology without anybody taking notice of it. The development of the last years allows to achieve effects that give the show a more harmonious appeal.