Our production of Chicago at UGA was designed by Ivan Ingermann. The set, designed entirely in forced perspective, provided a great opportunity to use our new ShopBot CNC router. I was given the challenge of building the chandelier, rotating wagon platform, a Tim Burton style desk, judges bench, an angled staircase and wings, a 16 foot tommy gun, and rolling aluminum jail cells.

  The aluminum jail cells were TIG welded using our Miller Diversion 180 TIG welder. The cages were suprisingly durable given thier slight profile and light weight. Each piece had to be cut and thoroughly cleaned in order to ensure solid welds. Bungee cords acted as flexible jail bars, which allowed the actors to move in and out of the cells.

  The legs on this table were not only tapered, but angled inward. It was put to the test in a scene where one of the actors had stand on and jump off of the unit.

  The angled steps needed to be strong enough to support multiple actors but light and mobile. Stage hands had to be able to quickly move the steps and wings for their scene. The 3/4" ply, 1" x 4" boards, and luan piece held up very well for its weight.

  The CNC router made quick work of this light up tommy gun sign. I wired 144 lights to illuminate the letters as well as welded a custom pyrotechnic rig that fired out of the tip of the gun in the scene's finale.

  With the aid of our Hossfeld bender I was able to bend 1" square steel tube into a circular frame for this hanging backlit city portal. Muslin was stretched across its face and half round foam finished off the frame.

  Chicago's chandelier was one of the more conceptually challenging pieces I've encountered as a set carpenter. The designer and I worked closely, as he needed to continually rework the design through the empirical process. After CNCing the initial elipses, the crown had to be angled to fit the steep angle of the chadelier's base. I strung around 100 flourescent light tubes and stuffed them with christmas lights to complete the effect.

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Justin Roberts 2012