Junior Theatre is a homecoming for acclaimed set designer
By Eva Trieger
SAN DIEGO –Sure. Lots of kids build things out of Legos or Lincoln logs, but how many kids replicate a set from Music Man from alphabet blocks when they’re only five years old? I’d wager not many.
Jay Heiserman, a two-time Emmy winner, has been designing sets ever since he began losing his baby teeth and is now getting major acclaim for his innovative set of The Ellen Show” starring comedienne Ellen Degeneres. Heiserman told this interviewer that on the receipt of his first Emmy he was surprised and elated, but when he was awarded the second he was “shocked, but could appreciate it more!”
Heiserman has explored acting and set design and found satisfaction in both arenas. San Diego Junior Theater may have served as a launch pad for this artist’s foray into theater, but after several seasons as a thespian, Heiserman tested his mettle on building the sets. He has teamed up with Steve Anthony on many shows including his favorite set, Hairspray. This set delighted him with suggestions of colors and patterns. While Heiserman has worked with others, he feels a sense of rapport and simpatico each time he joins forces with Anthony.
After acting in high school productions, Heiserman earned his BFA from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. With the degree under his belt, he returned to San Diego Junior Theater to design the set for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
What sets Heiserman apart from others is his unique ability to capture the essence of the show in his designs. He likes to “echo the feeling of the show.” This is made evident in the current production of Footloose where he created a bridge to cultivate a sense of the ominous and scary atmosphere surrounding the death of teens in an Illinois town.
Footloose is also the most challenging set Heiserman has designed to date. There are many set changes and unique locations. The fluid nature of design derives from this production being a newer show, giving the designer more opportunity to explore beyond preconceptions. Audiences can observe Heiserman’s skill and vision by going to see Footloose at Casa del Prado Theater between July 27 and August 12.
Heiserman said he would like to design a set for Hello Dolly!” because he enjoys the opulence of the period and style of the piece. He relishes the idea of taking the bare bones set and creating something magical and reminiscent of this era of early America.
The beauty of designing sets for San Diego Junior Theater is in the welcoming ambience that Heiserman experiences when he “comes home.” He said that each and every time he returns to San Diego Junior Theater he receives such positive feedback and a great sense of appreciation. This two-time Emmy winner may enjoy the bright lights and glitter of Los Angeles, but just as Dorothy discovered in The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home!
Trieger is a freelance writer specializing in the arts. She may be contacted at email@example.com
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