“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” has dazzled fans for two seasons with its blend of emotional drama and large-scale musical numbers, so it stands to reason that you need a set built to work with all of that range. In a new video released by NBC for the series’ Emmy campaign given exclusively to IndieWire, production designer David Willson talks about building a set for a musical series.
While showing off the main set of Maximo’s, an industrial warehouse space that Max and Mo (Skylar Astin and Alex Newell, respectively) turned into a bar, Willson and Astin discuss translating the cold space into something warm. “The interesting part is it was all designed for dance moves,” Willson says in the video.
As Willson demonstrates in the video, all the tables are bolted to the floor and are built to hold the weight of cast members dancing on top of them. The floors themselves are highly polished, and even the ceiling is meant to be visually eye-catching with thrift store paintings hanging from it. And don’t forget the gold spiral staircase that Willson says “every set should have one.” (Agreed!)
All the sets for the series are driven by the movement needed for the musical numbers, especially to accommodate large amounts of extras and others moving in and out. “Every aspect of the set has to be danceable, walls, tables, chairs,” said Willson, while simultaneously feeling authentic to the areas themselves. There’s a sense of heightened reality to everything.
Willson also made sure to create separate color palettes for when Zoey is in corporate spaces, like her job, versus when she’s at home. “Their living spaces are definitely designed to enhance their characters,” Willson said. There’s brighter colors like yellow when she’s at work and more muted blues for when she’s outside of that world. For someone like Mo, Willson went for a more artistic space with lush red that illustrate Mo’s frenetic personality, compared to Zoey’s apartment, which is more spartan in nature.
For Willson, he loves being able to blend the physicality of dance within the world of production design. “It’s just an incredible story to watch,” he said.
Watch the full video below: