The Challenging Design of ‘Sirens”

Sirens by Deborah Zoe Laufer at The Omaha Community Playhouse presents two unique challenges for it’s designers. First, it takes place in seven different locations spanning the globe. Secondly, it needs to have Sam’s catchy hit song, the one from 25 years ago that went on to be covered by anyone and everyone. How did Director Amy Lane and her team of designers approach these unusual demands?

Lane on the Set Design:

“The trick is that the show is a riff on The Odyssey. It’s an epic story that is a journey back home. We start out at the travel agency, go on a cruise, go overboard, get washed ashore, then  we’re in Sam and Rose’s apartment, and then a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean. It was a real challenge to try and fit 7 locations in a small space was a real challenge.

(Set Designer) Christine Donaghy had a real challenge on her hands. We talked about the journey theme, that’s what we wanted to emphasize with the space. She came up with a really cool solution to it. We looked at ancient maps of the journey of Odysseus. We charted his journey through these Greek Islands and where the original Siren Island night have been.  She then thought ‘why don’t we abstractly create an idea of Greek islands?’ That’s what we have, different islands in which the play travels from one to the next.”

On finding Sam’s one hit song:

“The play originated at the Humana Festival of New Works. Laufer wrote the lyrics to the song then worked with the resident sound designer at the festival in creating the music for it. The stage directions tell us that this one hit, 25 years ago, exploded in popularity. Everyone has covered it from Mel Torme to Ludacris. It’s a song that had permeated into pop culture.

The original sound designer had a great idea. He contacted hundreds of musicians around Louisville to work on this project. He had all of these different bands from all types of genres come in a record their version of the original song he wrote. We contacted him and he sent us the CD that he used in the original production.

There is a pipes and drums version, a funeral march, bluegrass, Frank Sinatra, a Studio 54 disco version, Celtic rock, a Ramones version, on and on and on. It was neat to see hundreds of musicians volunteer their time and create their own version of this ‘hit’. Even the Symphony did a version of it! It’s awesome. He requested that we list all those artists in the program as a special thank you. It’s quite a list.”

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to

posted at 10:52 pm
on Monday, August 19th, 2013


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