The curtain has risen on a fresh new fabrication venue for Chicago’s premier theatre, entertainment, television, and event scene and set experts. Chicago Scenic Studios, Inc. completed its move from the Goose Island location it has occupied since 1999 to its new and expansive city location at 955 W. Cermak, just west of Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. At more than 165,000 square-feet, the massive new building provides a larger and more efficient workspace for the multi-faceted experts at Chicago Scenic Studios to continue creating show-stopping, transformative sets for clients nationwide, from the Ford Motor Company and the Chicago Cubs, to the Joffrey Ballet and the Steve Harvey Show.
From initial concept to the final curtain, Chicago Scenic Studios has spent nearly 40 years mastering the complexities of dynamic environments, challenging interactive experiences, theatrical productions, and entertainment attractions of all types. The company has expanded and evolved from working exclusively on theatre to include television, special events, museums, and more both in Chicago and around the country. They now boast 45 full-time employees, including long-time project directors Ross Hamilton and Gary Heitz, and numerous stagecraft union members experienced in theatre arts. A full-service design and fabrication company that truly prides itself on masterfully creating exactly what a client has in mind down to the last detail, the firm’s staff are true masters of their fields, including carpentry, metalwork, sculpture, scenic painting, electrical/mechanical work, interactive development and automation. All of their services come together under one expansive roof at the new location.
Considered the “granddaddy” of scenic construction in Chicago and unofficially serving as a training hub for stage designers for four decades, Chicago Scenic Studios’, Inc. President and Founder Bob Doepel established the company in 1978 as a design and fabrication studio for Chicago’s up and coming theatre community. Doepel, who still comes to work daily along with his “man’s best friend” Verdi, the flat-coat retriever, comes from a long line of notable Chicago construction professionals. His great-grandfather founded Paschen Nielson Construction Company, which built Navy Pier. Bob Doepel himself has put his mark on many iconic Windy City institutions through his one-of-a-kind scene construction.
“Truly setting the stage, whether for a permanent fixture, a traveling production or a world-class event, is and always has been my passion. We try to create not just a set, but an experience,” said Doepel. “Our company settles for nothing less than the absolute best, most comprehensive and impeccably detailed services for our clients, and I feel this has set us apart for all these years.”
Today, Chicago Scenic Studios’ work can be seen in a wide range of industries throughout Chicago at locations such as at the Science Storms exhibit at the Museum Science & Industry, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Children’s Museum and the re-designed Advocate Center, including the Chicago Bulls locker room. The company’s work is featured in nearly all local television studios, including the Big Ten Network, the previous Steve Harvey Show, ESPN2’s game show Bracket Genius (for which CSSI also programmed the show’s gaming systems) and the Chicago Bears’ broadcast studio in Halas Hall. Visitors gaze at Chicago Scenic Studios’ craftsmanship at places like 360 Chicago at the world-renowned John Hancock Center. Music and opera lovers have seen countless Chicago Scenic sets, ranging from the von Trapp family villa in Lyric Opera’s presentation of The Sound of Music and two major movable pieces for The Joffrey Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker to the grandiose displays for Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular in New York City.
Nationwide, Chicago Scenic Studios has built a reputation for flawless and tireless production of memorable, once-in-a-lifetime events and one-of-a-kind spaces. After 25 years of building sets for Oprah Winfrey’s legendary Chicago-based TV talk show, Chicago Scenic Studios set the stage for her iconic finale shows at United Center and created the stage for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory celebration in Grant Park. Chicago Scenic created the innovative Ford Motor Company press reveal stage, complete with 90-foot by 46-foot LED light surround, at the 2017 North American International Auto Show at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and designed the modern One Liberty Observation Deck in Philadelphia.
Combining the arts and athletics in their signature uniquely creative way, Chicago Scenic Studios made and “dressed” the famous brachiosaurus at the Field Museum in his custom made enormous Chicago Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks jerseys during the team’s post-season and Stanley Cup semi-finals appearances, respectively. They also recently created the scene on stage at the Chicago Cubs World Series Championship Rally in 2016, shuffling their crews’ schedules to work overnight to create the stage for the celebration just 36 hours after the Cubs won Game 7 in Cleveland, and coordinated 24 confetti cannons flown in to Chicago overnight from California.
With an impressive list of satisfied clients and comprehensive scenic services from preliminary design to construction, set-up, and tear down, coupled with an extensive inventory of rental pieces and options for theatrical productions of all sizes, Chicago Scenic Studios has much to celebrate as their 40th anniversary approaches. The new location allows even more space for the company’s creative geniuses to demonstrate their craft as the firm continues to grow and expand.
“I couldn’t be more proud of each and every member of our team and the drive they display when it comes to giving every project 150%,” Doepel added. “We are looking forward to what is to come in the next 40 years in our new space.”
For more information about Chicago Scenic Studios, Inc., visit www.chicagoscenic.com or call 312.274.9900.