Buyer & Cellar

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in drawing, Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 0 comments

Between shoveling snow and illustration deadlines, the winter is blasting by. Hard to believe it’s actually spring break for those of us at MECA, MICA, and MCLA. Post-blizzard, we enjoyed finally seeing Portland Stage’s current production, Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins.

About the same time last year, I was in a mad rush (like this year) to illustrate posters for the entire season. The hilarious script features the famously nimble Dustin Tucker, who plays Alex Moore, as the imagined shop-keeper in the basement boutique on Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate, where she keeps her collections in real life. Yes, really. He also plays Barbra, her husband, and two other characters.

These were my early quick sketches. This one references the So-Cal location.


How about the shop-keeper with an iconic Barbra profile?


Barbra has a soft-serve machine in her shop…


It’s a deft play of power dynamics. While Alex is at Barbra’s beck and call, he discovers her vulnerabilities.


It goes both ways. Here he has Barbra in the palm of his hand, like one of her many dolls.


I played with another scale shift, making Alex the small figure next to Barbra’s enormous shopping bag, a metaphor for her insatiable  shopping.


This one references Alex waiting at the bottom of the stairs, Barbra’s eyes in a gilded mirror.


Sketch #2 got the nod, so I began by drawing Dustin. Not the best likeness, he’s way more handsome. I illustrated the costume he is given in the script, although he doesn’t wear it in the performance. Because these posters have so many different applications, I often do them in pieces that are merged in Photoshop. Elements can be reused in multiple formats.


I had the hardest time drawing Barbra.

9-barbra_blogThe chandelier became her earring.





Burgundy is apparently one of her favorite colors. I made a pastel backdrop for the other drawings.


The color looked a bit dead, so it got brightened when I added the other elements.

11final_blogThe drawing for the shop cabinet stayed simple to not compete with the main characters.12cabinet_blog

I loved the set by Meg Anderson! 


The spare and elegant design left room for Dustin’s virtuoso performance, with the spotlight always on that aspirational book, My Passion for Design, stage center. Even if you’re not a Barbra fan, Buyer & Cellar is non-stop entertainment. Look, my amused guests enjoyed it. Go see for yourself, it’s on stage til March 26.


Marty and Daisy Braun, Jonathan Hoel, Melissa Sweet, and Jamie Hogan, photo by Mark Holden

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