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Guest set designer brings Hollywood flair to New Mexico State theater production

Guest set designer and New Mexico State alumnus Keith McQueen has brought his experiences working in films and television to the stage in "Pterodactyls," the current production of the New Mexico State University Department of Theatre Arts and American Southwest Theatre Company.



New Mexico State students Darin Cabot and Sarah Burns act out a scene from "Pterodactyls." (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)New Mexico State students Darin Cabot and Morgan Aldrich are the Duncan children, Todd and Emma, in "Pterodactyls." (NMSU photo by ..

The play runs through Sunday, March 17, at the Hershel Zohn Theatre on campus.

"Pterodactyls" is the story of the Duncans, a wealthy American family who appear to have it all. As the story unfolds, however, it exposes the characters' problems and their struggle to keep their family and lives together. The dark, roller coaster comedy deals with AIDS, children, love, marriage, fear, class, economics and denial.

McQueen's set mirrors the Duncan family to an extent. "What we hoped to achieve was a high society house that looks like it's out of a magazine," McQueen said. He said that the Duncan family is one that he thinks would buy new furniture every few years to keep up with the style and he wanted to portray that in his set. "We wanted to make it look uncomfortable. Like a place where you wouldn't want to sit down," he said.


McQueen said that the biggest challenge has been creating the 24-foot replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. One of the characters in the play essentially digs up and reconstructs the skeleton on stage, creating a challenge for both the set designer and the actor. "I'm just hoping that it doesn't fall over," he said jokingly.

McQueen is a 1994 graduate of the New Mexico State theater program. He has since worked in film and television, doing much of his work with special effect "minis," or small-scale models used in films. He worked on the blockbuster film "Titanic" as well as episodes of "Star Trek" and even the children's show "J.J. the Jet Plane." He said he has had great experiences working in T.V. and film, but prefers the artistic freedom of theater.

"Pterodactyls" is directed by New Mexico State faculty member Tom Smith. Costumes are by resident costume designer Deb Brunson and lighting is by guest designer Peter Herman.

The cast consists of New Mexico State students Darin Cabot and Morgan Aldrich as the Duncan children, Todd and Emma, and Michael Edenfield as Tommy, Emma's fiance. New Mexico State students Sarah Burns and Santino Jiminez play the characters of Grace and Arthur, the Duncan parents.

"Pterodactyls" will run for six performances only. It contains explicit language and adult themes. It is not suitable for children. For ticket prices and reservations call the Hershel Zohn Theatre Box Office at (505) 646-4515.

First photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/pterodactyls_1.jpg.
CUTLINE: New Mexico State students Darin Cabot and Sarah Burns act out a scene from "Pterodactyls." (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Second photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/pterodactyls_2.jpg.
CUTLINE: New Mexico State students Darin Cabot and Morgan Aldrich are the Duncan children, Todd and Emma, in "Pterodactyls." (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Sarah Wheeler
March 12, 2002