Building Barber

Mike Dunham
Workers begin with the base framework as they build the set for "The Barber of Seville." The base has casters, which allow the set to rotate onstage for different scenes.
Costume shop supervisor Denice Jewell looks through a notebook of costume sketches.
Danielle Evans gets lights on the catwalks above the Discovery Theatre ready for the show.
Lead flyman Terry Sevy controls the curtain, lights and other parts of the production that hang above the stage at the Discovery Theatre.
Peg Faithful gets a beard stubble applied before a dress rehearsal. Faithful is in the chorus in a so-called "trouser role" in the opera.
Conductor William Hicks leads the orchestra during a dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of "The Barber of Seville."
A bass player makes a notation on the score during a dress rehearsal.

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