Download this issue

Winter 2017 Newsletter

The Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ brings a new setting with classic charm

The Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ brings a new setting with classic charm

After almost ten years in the making, The Joffrey Ballet introduced its world premiere and reimagined version of The Nutcracker.

While Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s alluring music remains, the rest of the show got a complete makeover. This includes the Broadway scaled set, nine major pieces of which were tasked to Chicago Scenic.

Not only did the scenery have to fill The Joffrey’s stage, but as a traveling show, it also needed to have the ability to be versatile enough to accommodate different venues. CSSI took the initiative through many meetings with the Joffrey design and production teams and countless hours researching ideas to create a set that would be structurally sound yet as light as possible.

“While scenery is intended to be “light and portable” the set design lent itself to large and heavy…Our solution was to laser-cut aluminum for the World’s Fair Traveler pieces. This satisfied the visual and structural needs and was a lightweight solution that we could attach the scenic fabric to,” said Stefan Koniarz, project manager for Chicago Scenic Studios.

CSSI also conscientiously chose materials that would be resilient and easy for travel, considering aspects such as how a piece breaks down to fit in a truck, load into a theatre, and assemble in the space to make traveling effortless. All the materials used are easily located in stores along the route of the performance, should there be a need for repair or replacement.

read moreless

Robinson Mall

Robinson Mall

​Shopping malls are eager to attract shoppers any time of year but especially during the holiday buying season.

When Pennsylvania-based software developer SchellGames created an interactive “Holidoodle” game and presented the idea to Beth Edwards, the General Manager of the Pittsburgh, PA Mall at Robinson, Edwards was interested in incorporating it into the mall’s Santa photography experience.

Along with the game, SchellGames had created a concept for a new experience. Realizing they needed a partner to design and create an attractive experience built around Santa and the game, the Mall enlisted Chicago Scenic’s help.

The result was a wonderland experience that featured an iconic 45-foot tree rimmed with LED lights programmed to provide a continuously projected 15-minute light show, acting as a beacon to draw shoppers directly to Santa.

"Making the tree a reality was the real challenge for us,” said Ross Hamilton, one of CSSI’s project directors. The mall ceiling had a 300-pound weight limit so the Chicago Scenic team, working with Skokie, IL-based partner Tectonics, designed the freestanding tree to attach to the ceiling’s dome for lateral support, while using a 30-foot truss to serve as the tree’s “trunk” to support and stabilize the structure.

"The solution was a unique and elegant structure that easily assembles, disassembles and stores in crates for quick and space efficient storage for continued use in future holiday seasons,” Hamilton said.

Seven train cars were constructed as benches, providing seating for parents and children as they wait their turn with Santa. Scenic artists painted them with bright colors and silver trim.

Throughout the mall, six chandeliers with cascading elements reminiscent of holiday paper chains were hung. The largest chandelier, 16′ diameter and 20′ tall, featured a double helix of lights coupled with reflective shells, making a grand centerpiece in the Mall’s center court.

The experience included purchased photo opportunities with Santa as well as the ‘selfie frame’ where visitors could take their own memorable photographs. The attraction was a success—the Mall reported a significant increase in photo sales, making the holiday attraction a memorable one for mall executives, shoppers, and kids alike.

Chicago Scenic worked with Bloomington, IL based designer David Warfel, who designed the elements for the experience and its accompanying light show.

read moreless

2017 Chicago Scenic Studios Calendar

2017 Chicago Scenic Studios Calendar


January - Ford NAIAS 2016

February - Chicago Bulls Locker Room

March - One Liberty Observation Deck

April - Lions Cubs Hats at the Art Institute of Chicago

May - Lincoln Dealers Meeting 2016

June - PBS NewsHour with President Obama

July - Amphibians Bus Shelter with the Shedd Aquarium

August - ESPN Town Hall The Undefeated

September - Terracotta Warriors with The Field Museum

October - Cubs Championship Rally

November - Santa Photography Experience with Robinson Mall

December - The Joffrey Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

read moreless