When it's nearing "Crunch" time getting ready for a show to open, night takes on a whole different meaning when you realize that there are still many things you want to get done, and the clock keeps ticking. Over the years, many a night I worked on the set until the wee hours, knowing that my day job was waiting me in the morning... but nothing compared to the fun, laughs and excitement Paul Christoperson and I had working on the set for "Grease." He was anxious to learn about set design and the tricks I could teach him. Since he was willing to stay as long as I was, we often found ourselves working together after everyone else had the good sense to go home and get some sleep.
The set was designed like building blocks which were arranged and painted one way to be the interior of Rydell High, a bedroom, and The Burger Shop. About two o'clock in the morning as we were putting the finishing touches on The Burger Shop, we were getting a little weary, all the while still brainstorming to come up with some decoration that would really stand out and complete the scene. We were both hungry, and I think it was the power of suggestion that enticed us to go downstairs to the Wheel of Fortune, to see if we could talk Jack into fixing each of us one of his delicious cheeseburger platters. It was just what we needed to go back and keep on working for a while longer.
The perfect idea hit me when we got back to the Dom Ballroom when I looked at the pile of foam rubber I brought in to pad the seats of the booths. "I've got it, Paul... what if we make a giant cheeseburger with the works!" With renewed energy and total delight, we jumped on the idea, and it all seemed to have been planned since the beginning. Paul cut out a three foot circle out of plywood with a dowel rod extended up from the center, and attached a rope and pulley system from the ceiling, while I started forming the foam rubber into a giant burger, and the top and bottom of a bun. We covered the buns with muslin, mixed some paint that would resemble the baked color and of course with sesame seeds painted on the top. We cut and painted thinner pieces to look like cheese, lettuce, pickles, onion, ketchup, mustard, and decided it needed to be topped with another pickle slice on the top. Once all the pieces were ready we poked a hole in the center of each and layered them down on the dowel rod.
We got it done in record time that night and had it ready for the next rehearsal. We were both so proud of our secret idea, our private joke smiles let everyone know we were up to something. When it came time for The Burger Shop scene, we brought it out and attached it. As the rope was pulled into place we gave it a big spin which lasted as long as the scene, and the cheers and applause from the cast and crew was worth every minute of sleep we lost the night before. It was the most mouthwatering burger you ever saw!