As the end of the 2021-22 Season approaches, we prepare to bid a fond farewell to David Len, Scenic Designer. This has been David’s 29th season with Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
Executive Director Bruce Tinker reflects upon David’s tenure with Civic, sharing the following statement:
“David’s designs have been a crucial element of the Civic Theatre experience. Whether a simple single set or a complicated multi-location show, David’s sense of line and form coupled with stunning scenic painting and meticulous detail are a hallmark. David’s impact and design memories were immediate. For his first major musical, CITY OF ANGELS, the play demands an enormous set for both the backlots and mean streets of Hollywood. A crew member described it this way: “It looked like a lake full of boats. You never set foot on the floor, you walked on the set from the scene shop all the way to Veteran’s Park!”
David is a great scenic designer, but also an incredible craftsman. He is an amazing furniture builder and adapter. Of note are his barber’s chair for SWEENY TODD and a replica of LBJ’s office chair for ALL THE WAY. There are countless times he has created specialty scenic elements like the car for GREASE, a boat and a car for THE HARDY BOYS, and a full scale sailboat that was built from beginning to end every night for THE BOATWRIGHT. One of the most memorable “David Projects” was Robbie the Robot for RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET. David designed and built the Robot costume including lights and operable hand claws. Not to mention, building a laser device to represent Tinkerbell for PETER PAN. David’s ingenuity and creativity have been a gift to his fellow staff, the volunteers, and the audience.
There have been countless times the curtain has raised to sighs of appreciation for a David Len Set, but one memory I have is for the last show before we closed the Theatre for six months to complete the Grand Action Renovation in 2006. Our last production was ENCHANTED APRIL, a play with several locations in London during the Winter in Act I, and then a country estate in Italy for Act II. When the curtain revealed the villa with a sun-baked Tuscan background, applause embraced the cast and made everyone feel like they were sharing the terrace of that villa. That is what I remember from my work with and on David’s sets, I truly felt at home in those spaces, they were absolutely simply right. His design for this season’s SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE told this story best. As you waited for the play to begin, the set had such presence in stasis but also this innate energy… the space was poised for possibility. David Len, thank you for designing these amazing sets that served every show and Civic Theatre so very well.”
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is proud to have shared David’s work with the entire West Michigan community and those that come from afar to witness the magic of live theatre in our historic space. We wish David well as he transitions into this new and exciting phase filled with endless possibilities; an exciting life ahead to design and build.