Sometimes you’ll find that when working on a production, the script will call for something impractical or difficult to have as “real” onstage. Case in point in The Wedding Singer (we open in less than a week — EEK!) — obviously a show with “wedding” in the title will at some point require a cake!
For a while I was considering having a real cake onstage, but ended up vetoing it for a few reasons – first, it would be potentially messy (especially if it got dropped or smeared on a costume); second, it would be expensive and/or time-consuming to have a fresh cake onstage each show; and third, my musical director reminded me that real cake would be a bad idea onstage because the cast would inevitably eat it, and eating cake right before trying to sing isn’t good! (FYI – it coats your throat, making it that much harder to get those gorgeous notes out!)
So, a prop cake would have to be built. And this cake was surprisingly easy! The bottom tier was already made from a previous production — it’s a round piece of foam covered with tape, and then painted white, and sitting on a piece of cardboard. The whole thing had to be re-painted, as it was originally trimmed with blue and white and said “Happy Birthday” on the top!
PRO TIP: Always be sure to ask the company props master/mistress before altering a prop from stock!
The middle and top tier are round decorative boxes purchased from Dollarama. The top tier had to be painted first as it was brown, but the middle tier I just kept as-is. Remove the lids, flip upside down, add some hot glue and presto! The flowers, pink ribbon trim and pearl decorations were also Dollarama finds. The pearls are fantastic, as they’re self-adhesive and come pre-attached and in long strips. The flowers were found in the bridal section and ripped off the original green ring. Overall I think the whole project took about two hours to complete (and actually less for me, as our OKTC co-op student did the initial painting!).
We also sliced a slit in the back of the cake, so the bride and groom could “cut” the cake onstage. Once the show is over, the slice can be easily repaired with more tape and repainted if the next production wants it whole.
I also had to create a cake topper that looked like the bride, “Only much, much smaller!” (as Robbie Hart says in a fit of despair). This was super-easy to create — I found a Barbie Happy Meal toy in the OKTC props storage and fashioned her a dress and veil out of some lace trim and hot glue, as well as little “shoes” from the aforementioned pearl stickers from the cake. If you look closely, you can see her purple dress through the lace, but it’s really not going to matter, since she’s going to be held by an actor and the audience won’t be that close up to notice!
Have you made any interesting or unusual props for a show? Share your stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!
Further Reading: Funny/Strange/Scary Props Stories and Theatre Etiquette: Concerning Props
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