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Mansfield University Home Page > Theatre Home Page > Performances > Into the Woods > Brian Rance

This spring’s musical production has brought with it a very special guest artist, Mr. Brian Rance.

No ordinary artist, Mr. Rance specializes in backdrops, sets and props for musical theater. His larger than life paintings are currently being made to adorn the Mansfield stage for this year’s annual production, INTO THE WOODS.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Rance as well as looking through his art portfolio. Rance was raised in Hertfordshire, England and attended college at fifteen. He went to school for art, specifically advertising where he became a visualizer. He was first drawn to the United States in order to travel the South American and Central American countries- all of which he has seen in his lifetime.

He settled in a small town in Missouri, where currently has his studio. In describing his studio, however, I can tell you that it is no ordinary artist’s workspace; Rance has an enormous area in which to hang his backdrops that he paints. He described his work experience, some of which includes working with some big names! Rance has worked with Andy Williams, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, just to name a few. When asked about his personal favorite work, though, Rance described a show called “Promise”. You might be wondering how a professional artist has come to grace the stage at Mansfield University…

Mr. Michael Crum, director and set designer for INTO THE WOODS, met Rance in Missouri during a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Crum was impressed with Rance’s work and invited him to Mansfield two years ago to paint backdrops for MU’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

I inquired specifically about his work on sets for music theatre. Rance replied “The set has to be functional; my job is to make it look good.” This is pretty amazing considering Rance does not read the script, only considers the needs of the director and lets his creative talents do the rest. “I have to remember how it is going to look in my portfolio”. When asked about his inspiration for his set designs, he remarkably stated that they come from his imagination- not from pictures or previously designed set.

To see the work of this amazing artist, come see the finished product in the MU Production on INTO THE WOODS, presented on February 19, 20, 21, and 22 in Straughn Auditorium.

Tickets can be purchased in advance  online or at the door – Adults $12; Seniors/Children $7 and MU Students $4 with ID.

“Everything in theater is collaboration!” - Brian Rance

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