Behind the Scenes with Josh Robinson

GVT’s 50th anniversary season is well underway with its second show, Pippin! These two weeks of rehearsal and preparation are the real “magic to do” of the production. The director, designers, and actors all must come together to create a cohesive piece of art.

One vital element of any production is the set design. It is often the first thing you notice when you walk into the theatre. The set is the skeleton of the production; it establishes the style and tone and stipulates where your gaze is drawn at any given time.

Josh Robinson, Technical Director and Set Designer for Pippin, earned his BFA in Theatrical Design/Production from Montclair State University in NJ. Since his arrival in 2010, he has designed about 35 shows for GVT and was seen onstage last year as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar!

Josh Robinson, Technical Director and Set Designer for  Pippin

Josh Robinson, Technical Director and Set Designer for Pippin

When undertaking the set design for Pippin, Robinson worked with director Cathey Sawyer and fellow designers to create the world of the show. While many designers use drawings to communicate their concepts, Robinson likes to begin his design process with a model.

“In my experience…this allows the director to see exactly what will be on stage in full scale and 3 dimensional. Each set and model is unique in its construction and use of materials,” Robinson said.

For Pippin, he was given direction to create a “scaffold type set with many levels.” Director Cathey Sawyer wanted “something that was timeless yet with hints of medieval” and “something that maximizes real estate for movement while still giving us levels for interesting visuals.” The show is based strongly around physical comedy and dance so it is imperative that the set offer ample opportunity to climb, jump, and dance across different parts of the stage.

Choreographer Donald Laney is no stranger to the GVT stage. His work has been seen in productions of Beehive!, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr., Chicago, and more.

“I am looking forward to exploring and utilizing as much of the set as I can” and “view the set as a jungle gym or obstacle course,” said Laney.

Robinson's set model from the front of  Pippin , 2017

Robinson's set model from the front of Pippin, 2017

Robinson's set model from above of   Pippin,  2017

Robinson's set model from above of  Pippin, 2017

See for yourself how the world of Pippin is constructed and shaped! Performances run May 26 – June 10 at 7:30 p.m. with a Pay What You Can preview performance on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on June 3 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors (60+), and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture & History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.


Laura Kastenbauer