A Car Is Born

No doubt many BLT News Blog readers have been wondering whatever happened to BLT’s car?

The forlorn beginnings of the centerpiece for BLT’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar – abandoned on a hill somewhere in Burien. Jan. 19, 2013.

When last we heard about it, the poor thing was in the process of being rescued from a blackberry patch in north Burien. Intended to be part of the set for our production of Jesus Christ Superstar, there only remained the task of moving the car and setting it into place.

Or so we volunteers naively thought.

Matt Gendreau and his business JunkThatCar.net lent us a tow truck to bring the car off the hill it was on, and tow it to the theatre:

The car arrives at BLT, Jan. 27, 2013

The car intended to be part of the set of BLT’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar arrives at the back entrance to the theatre by tow truck. Jan. 27, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

Luckily, there were quite a few of us working on the set and fixing the theatre seats at the time. Pulling the car into the theatre took quite a few of us, even with the dollies placed under its wheels:

The car is pulled through the entrance by volunteers, Jan. 27, 2013

As Russ and Michelle look on, Eric, Bo, and Maggie help pull the car into the theatre. Jan. 27, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

Still, after a whole lot of pulling, pushing, tugging, and cursing, we managed to drag the thing into position, where director Steve Cooper, set designer Nathan Rodda, and set construction tech Russ Kay discussed the task ahead of them:

With the car in the theatre, the staff discuss the next steps

With the car in the theatre, Russ Kay, Nathan Rodda, and director Steve Cooper discuss how to position and dress the car so it fits the post-apocalyptic motif of the show. Jan. 27, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

As these photos shows, there was very little of value left in the car. While Ford Fiestas were never the most extravagantly equipped vehicles on America’s roads, this one was especially empty. The engine and interior of the vehicle had been removed already. This was fine for our purposes, of course. In our post-apocalyptic world, just about anything of value would have been removed and used long ago.

Look Ma, no engine. Jan. 27, 2013

The engine compartment of the Ford Fiesta as it was when it arrived to be part of the set of Jesus Christ Superstar. Jan. 27, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.


The car's interior. Jan. 27, 2013.

The car’s interior as it was when it was brought to the theatre. There were no seats, but there was lots of junk. Jan. 27, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

Of course, the next task was to pull all the junk and plants off the car and clean it. The car might be set in a post-apocalyptic future, but it was a future of our creation, not the random effects of actual wear and abuse. Here’s how the car looked a few days later, cleaned and in position:

The car in position. Feb. 2, 2013.

Cleaned of junk and washed, the car waits in position on stage left. Feb. 2, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

It was looking better than it had in a long time, but the poor little Fiesta was about to suffer more indignities. After all, no star of theatre can go on without makeup.

First bits of decoration for the car, Feb. 4, 2013.

Cleaned and washed, the car gets its first bit of dressing, some erosion cloth to simulate plant growth. Feb. 4, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for BLT.

Nathan used erosion cloth to simulate plant growth over the vehicle. Up close it’s not convincing, but he wasn’t done yet, and it already looks better from the distance an audience would see it.

Then Nathan applied coats of brown and reddish paint until it looked like it had been sitting outdoors for a century or two:

Nathan paints the car to look like it's rusted out. Feb. 9, 2013

Set painter/designer Nathan Rodda paints the car to look like it’s rusted out. Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for Burien Little Theatre.

This is one of the reasons the car was still on its dollies. It’s a lot easier to prepare a piece like this when it can be moved. Finally, with its paint finished, the car was pushed back into place and removed from the dollies.

The car in its final position. Feb. 9, 2013.

With its paint job finished, the car is placed in its final position on the set of BLT’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for BLT.

The car was placed on wood blocks so that it looks like settling had occurred underneath it. After decades of being in the same place, that’s going to happen.

One final touch was added by stage manager Sharon Adler and props manager Cyndi Baumgardner – smashing the headlamps to simulate the effects of decades of abuse and weathering:

Cyndi and Sharon finish weathering the car. Feb. 9, 2013

Cyndi Baumgardner (right) and Sharon Adler add a final bit of weathering to the car – a smashed headlamp. Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for BLT.

All that was left was for Cyndi and Nathan to add some fake vines, and some fake ground cover:

The car is ready for showtime. Feb. 9, 2013.

With fake vines and fake ground cover in place, the car is ready to be a star in the BLT production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Feb. 9, 2013. Photo by Craig Orsinger for BLT.


and our star set decoration is ready for her debut.

UPDATE: As this article “went to press”, I didn’t know the identity of the person who lent us the tow truck. I’ve been informed that person was Matt Gendreau of JunkThatCar.net . The car, not coincidentally, was also donated to us for the run of the show by Matt’s business. Thanks for the assist, Matt. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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