Stage designer David Korins stands on the upper level of his set for “Hamilton” (Photo: David Korins Design)
If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Broadway hit Hamilton, you’ve likely noticed the set’s unique turntable floor. It’s the work of David Korins, one of the most acclaimed production designers working today on Broadway, and is meant to represent the “swirling hurricane” of Hamilton’s relationship with Burr and the resulting political storm in which he finds himself.
While immersing himself in a biography of Alexander Hamilton that runs more than 800 pages, Korins meticulously researched locations and details for his design for the blockbuster show. He visited both the Schuyler house in Albany and the 18th-century Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan; in fact, the chandelier in Hamilton’s tavern scene is inspired by the one he saw there. Every object on set—including quill pens and inkwells, letters, candles, and even the color of the champagne in a ballroom scene—is historically accurate.
In addition to his work on Hamilton, Korins is now represented on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen, with a setting that surrounds its performers in a visually complex, high-tech depiction of a digital world that’s as far removed as possible from the stripped-down wood, rope, and brick elements (it took experimenting with 33 kinds before he hit the right shade of that brick) that dominate Hamilton’s stage.
Korins is a creative innovator making his mark across a variety of industries beyond the world of theater. He has worked extensively as a production designer for TV and film projects, including Grease: Live, for which he won an Emmy Award. As a creative director, he has collaborated with a wide variety of celebrated artists and corporate clients including Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Sia, Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Kors, Sotheby’s, Gagosian, Equinox, and Google. He designed immersive installations for music festivals and created a VR installation experience at the Tribeca Film Festival for Gabo Arora’s The Last Goodbye. He has also designed several restaurants, including the reincarnation of the Times Square landmark, Bond 45.
In a conversation with Peter Marks, chief theatre critic of the Washington Post, Korins discusses his process in researching, designing, building, and installing the set for Hamilton, as well as his work on a range of projects as creative director.
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