Adam Koch is one of the most sought-after young theater designers in the country. He’s designed off-Broadway, at renowned regional theaters, and for some of the biggest nightlife events in the world. This summer, he arrives in Philadelphia to design Mazeppa’s July 2015 production of Closer Than Ever.
My Signature Set, So Far
Hairspray at Syracuse Stage
It can be said that designers are tested when they apply themselves to “the classics.” In the world of musical comedy, Hairspray has certainly made a space for itself. I love this production and design because of the unexpected beauty and visual fun we were able create for a title that often gets a garish and cartoony treatment.
Set Where I Changed the Audience’s Expectations
Bye Bye Birdie at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Birdie is another “classic” where the audience’s expectations are in play. Because Birdie is really about a couple who give up the city for a chance at happiness in the heartland, there has to be a reason for them to stay! So instead of a kooky geometric jungle gym world (like you recall from “Telephone Hour”), I found an idyllic Norman Rockwell inspired look, the kind of place no one could say “no” to.
Set That Was Most Changed from Its Original Concept
Closer Than Ever at Mazeppa Productions
This show crisscrosses stories and strangers like a fantasia of modern life and love. But where does this all take place? Inside? Outside? In an abstract space filled with doors (as the lyrics suggest)? When I look back on my life, I don’t picture doors; I think of the faces of people I’ve met. So we conceived of a dream-like cafe that brings the stories and actors close to one another, face to face.
Set I Wish More People Got To See
Bat Boy at 1st Stage
There is a certain kind of magic that happens when you stuff a big show into a tiny space. With Bat Boy’s rocking score, this little black box theater was seriously busting at the seams. It was so electric that this production was nominated for six Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Set Design, and won for Outstanding Director (Steven Royal).
Set I Made the Most of on a Tight Budget
Always…Patsy Cline at Bristol Riverside Theatre
My biggest challenge is often how to make a set look thoroughly conceived, beautiful, and detailed without a lot of money. Patsy Cline required that kind of smoke and mirrors. With the help of lighting designer, Cory Pattak, and the tech-savvy of the thrifty team at Bristol, we managed to make a big impact on small budget.
Set Currently On Broadway That Got Me Very Excited
The King and I at Lincoln Center Theater
The collaboration between director Bartlett Sher and designer Michael Yeargen continues to be incredibly gorgeous, seamlessly blending old world elegance and new world simplicity. The ship that floats out over the audience is a total treat, and the palace settings take full advantage of Lincoln Center’s vast, sweeping stage. This design makes me want to jump into the stage picture and live there.
Iconic Musicals I Get To Reimagine
The revival of Chicago has been running for 15 years on Broadway, and now that visual approach – the black costumes, the gold framed orchestra – has become part of our Chicago consciousness. But this fall, I am working with director, Joe Deer, to reimagine this story by emphasizing the fun and decadence of vaudeville in the 1920’s, in a production that is dripping with decay and dazzling period detail.
Fever is another kind of “classic” – a classic movie – the backbone of which is the Bee-Gee’s disco songbook and a whole lot of dancing. The pleasure and fun of Fever on stage is again the music and the way the show dances from one scene to another. And so like a ballet, I’m creating a visually striking and physically minimal production that captures the grunge and the glitter of the era.
Set of Someone Else’s That I Will Never Forget Seeing
Here Lies Love at The Public Theater
I was not prepared for any aspect of this show. The immersive storytelling and staging was completely surprising and addictive. (I saw the show three times!) It nailed what all creative teams set out to do – to tell an epic story in a simple and unexpected way. Here too, I wanted to jump into the stage picture and live, and because of the environmental design, I could!
Set That Stretched or Challenged Me Most as an Artist
Miss Saigon at Signature Theatre
Saigon is an epic story with an epic amount of scenery and locations that are undeniably part of its identity. I got the chance to design Saigon as a younger man under the direction of Broadway’s Eric Shaeffer, and it really was trial by fire. I look back now and recognize it as the project that required so much more of me than I thought I could give. It is my proudest accomplishment because of it.