Building Barber

February 7, 2009 

It takes a couple of minutes for James Taylor (the young baritone, not the old pop singer) to belt out Figaro's show-stopping aria in Act I of "The Barber of Seville." It takes a couple of hours to present the whole show.

But creating Anchorage Opera's production of Rossini's hit comedy has taken months of rehearsal, costume-making, technical tweaking and set-building.

That set, now filling the stage of the Discovery Theatre, is the work of hometown designer Amanda Walker.

Walker was born and raised in Anchorage. After graduating from Service High School in 2004, she attended the elite University of North Carolina School of the Arts and earned her bachelor's degree in scenic design.

Back in Anchorage, she splits her time between working with shows like Cyrano's recent musical, "The Boy Friend," and working at her day job at Blaine's Art Supply.

"My family has always loved theater," she said. "I was raised on musicals and the 'Nutcracker.' "

She got involved with school productions and studied set design and stage management with TBA Theatre in her senior year.

"I discovered there was something wonderful about the unique energy created by the personalities that you encounter in the theater."

The set design process is "very internal for me," she said. "Not only do I do the analyzing of the script and factual research, but what drives me is the very core and essence of the show."

If she succeeds in finding that core, she said, the audience "can see on the stage for 'The Barber of Seville' what you hear from the pit and the fantastic singers."

Mike Dunham can be reached at

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