Missing your favorite holiday stage traditions this year? Several Downtown Crossing storefronts have been festooned with window displays meant to sprinkle this strange season with a little performing arts magic.
Rosemarie Sansone, president of the Boston Business Improvement District, said the “Stage Windows” initiative puts cultural organizations back to work.
“We know what a loss this [year] is for them,” she explained. “This allows the public to remember them. It’s a way of activating a space for them to present themselves and for the public to be reminded of the great value they add to the city.”
Each “Stage Windows” installation was designed and constructed by a cultural organization sidelined by COVID-19. Boston Ballet’s storefront (101 Arch St.) highlights whimsical costumes from “The Nutcracker.” Commonwealth Shakespeare Company pays tribute to the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” (467 Washington St.). As a bonus, Boston design firm Black Math created two solstice-themed installations along Washington Street.
To fund the effort, participating groups received a stipend from BID and the opportunity to temporarily re-employ set designers and other behind-the-scenes workers. Huntington Theatre Company’s assistant props master Justin Seward said he and his colleagues had been furloughed until “Stage Windows” began.
“This lets us work on the fly again,” he said. “To get our creative juices flowing after all these months.”
Each group was given complete creative freedom to design their storefront. Huntington chose a New Year’s Eve theme “for obvious reasons,” Seward explained.
“For many, many reasons, everyone wants to put 2020 behind us,” he said. “So we want to celebrate with a flashy window that will catch people’s eye and usher in the new year.”
Seward and his team of six or so Huntington workers are digging up old props for their storefront (located at 481 Washington St.). They’re reusing chandeliers, bed frames, and costumes from previous productions, like a pair of sparkly ensembles from a 2012 production of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
The ultimate goal? To make the holidays feel festive, maybe even a little bit normal this year.
“I want it to brighten one person’s day,” Sanson said.