Boomtown Was Built in a Day

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | No Comments »

Our set for King O’Leary is constructed with much more attention for design and craftsmanship than many of the actual buildings built during the California Gold Rush. Scenic designer François-Pierre Couture and set builder Brian Ludmer came to the theater today and brought us Boomtown!

In 1848 gold was discovered in California. Six years later the non-native population had exploded by 20 times! “Boom towns” popped up across the Golden State. This rapid growth resulted in poorly constructed houses, mob rule, vigilante justice and considerable squalor. Conditions for miners were hard. They lived in log cabins and tents and worked in all kinds of weather suffering incredible hardships.

In our story of King O’Leary, Boomtown is the name of the town where the miners mine and the streets are paved with gold. We based the character of King O’Leary on the highly eccentric and slightly loony Emperor Norton. He was a real person who lived in San Francisco and called himself the “Emperor of the United States and the Protector of Mexico.” Of course, he wasn’t actually an Emperor but some people would humor him and treat him with honor and reverence. He even issued money in his name and some shop owners would accept it as currency just to be nice.

It would be right-nice of you to bring your currency on down to the Bootleg Theater this Saturday, June 4th, at high noon (12 o’clock). Above you’ll see a sketch by François-Pierre of what it will look like when it’s all finished. Below you can see what we have so far. Click here for a full calendar of the Fun Family Festival (of Tragedy) running through July 31.

The scenic designer surveys his city.

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