‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ production designer Bill Groom on building an entire burlesque theater from scratch [Exclusive Video Interview]

“The biggest challenge for season four, I think, was dealing with the limitations that were set by COVID in New York,” says “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” production designer Bill Groom, who earned an Emmy nomination this year for Best Production Design for a Period or Fantasy Program for the episodes “Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest” and “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall.” So how do you adapt when you don’t have access to the locations you would normally use? Build it yourself, of course. We talked to Groom as part of our “Meet the Expertspanel of Emmy-nominated production designers. Watch our interview above.

“We had a script that had basically an old vaudeville theater that had been turned into a burlesque theater and it just wasn’t gonna be possible to go to a Broadway theater, which is probably what we would’ve done,” Groom explains. So they constructed their own theater from the ground up. “That happened with a number of other sets for the season, sets that we might have gone on location, but because of the limitations [of COVID] we built on stage.” To control costs they repurposed older sets for the backstage areas of the burlesque “because that’s as big a footprint really as the theater itself … with a prop room and manager’s office and night watchman’s desk and all of that stuff.”

Of course, he couldn’t do it alone: “We’ve had a great crew and I have to say, in season five I’ve probably got the best crew I’ve ever had in my life on anything,” Groom says. “We’ve kept pretty much the same crew we started with. There were a few people who didn’t work as well. Now we have a crew that really works together nicely.” We’ll have to wait and see what they’re building next.

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