Set Designer Scott Pask Makes History Tonight

News   Set Designer Scott Pask Makes History Tonight
Broadway history is usually made by stars and writers, but a record is being set by set designer Scott Pask April 23.

Because of a quirk in the busy pre-Tony scheduling of openings, two shows open on Broadway simultaneously tonight, The Visit and Airline Highway. And, through a similar quirk in scheduling, both of them happen to have sets by Pask.

The achievement doesn't come in isolation for the three-time Tony winner. He has designed a total of five shows this season; those two, plus It's Only a Play, Finding Neverland and Something Rotten. The last one opened last night, meaning Pask's record is actually three Broadway openings in two days. "It's both exhilarating and exhausting," said Pask. "I've been running from stage door to stage door."

<i>The Visit</i> set
The Visit set

Pask said he was helped by the fact that while the openings are all falling together, the actual design work was done over the past 10 months. He created the basic design for The Visit for its premiere at the Williamstown Festival in summer 2014. It was expanded and changed in scale for the Lyceum Theatre, but the concept remained the same.

Similarly, the set for Airline Highway was originally created for its regional bow at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in November 2014.

Also, Pask said, "both are single sets, more like environmental installations." He said he has no favorite among his six shows currently on Broadway (a seventh will join them when An Act of God begins next month), but, he said, "I'm proud that they're all so different. It would be hard to say that one looks like another. They're well-fitting to the shows they're a part of."

However, he said he has bits of each set that he's especially proud of. "I love the way nature [in the form of huge vines] is overtaking the station in The Visit. And I love the general decrepitude and authenticity of [the set for] Airline Highway. You can see the faded history of this place. You can see the decay."

The <i>Airline Highway</i> set
The Airline Highway set Photo by Joan Marcus

No one Playbill asked could confirm whether Pask's achievement is a Broadway first. Certainly it is so in modern times. For many years the Broadway League prohibited shows from opening on the same night. It's still rare. Pask's closest rival we could find was designer John Lee Beatty's record of three shows opening in four days, April 15-18, 2013.

Pask has designed 42 Broadway shows. He won Tony Awards for his sets for The Book of Mormon, The Coast of Utopia and The Pillowman.

As for the important question of which show's cast party he will attend tonight, Pask replied with a diplomatic and unsurprising "Both."

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