By: Kristen Oliveri
For David Korins, the New York-based Hamilton set designer extraordinaire, his occupation was a calling. As a young child growing up in Massachusetts dabbling in the arts, he felt drawn to the set design of his high school productions. By the time he started college, he fell in love with the design process and honed his skills at the Williamson Theater Festival before deciding on calling New York City his home. Today, Korins is attracted to many different projects—taking on everything from the iconic Broadway production of Hamilton to designing restaurant concepts, to producing rock concerts. “It’s a blessing and a curse to be curious about all types of designs, which translate into many different things for me,” Korins told Resident Magazine. “I’ve somehow made a career out of learning on the job.”
As for tackling the all-consuming production of Hamilton, Korins cautioned, “Be careful for what you wish for. I had such a huge responsibility and I knew from the beginning that Hamilton was a staggering work of genius and there was no blueprint for what the show should be,” he began. “There are 51 songs in this epic, sprawling show and my job was to wrestle it down to the ground and find something that wouldn’t pull focus and help narrative come across.” The real design challenge in life is being able to focus the audience throughout the plot, as to what was important and what was not, he added. “This was particularly difficult because it was an epic journey. Today, we are all carrying around pictures of these people in our wallets. We know how this story ends,” he explained.
As soon as Hamilton was a huge success, Korins dove head first into another all-encompassing project: designing and staging FOX’s Grease LIVE. He applied what he felt was one of the most compelling storytelling elements for a live production, which was showing the audience how they went from one scene to another, as if it were happening live on stage. The issue with taking on Grease was the iconography of the show, and what it represents in American culture. “I think we paid homage to the original by doing our own version of it,” said Korins.
Next up for Korins, is a host of other creative projects such as: working on a New York City restaurant that’s situated across from the Hamilton theater, as well as, two new Broadway productions including War Paint and Dear Even Hanson. He’s also working on a major pop artist’s world concert tour, although, he remained mum on what personality was involved. What’s quite evident from speaking with Korins is that he certainly isn’t lacking in creativity, with a host of unique projects that will keep him and his team busy, just as he begins to hit his career stride. “I’m just now starting to have a clue about my work,” he added. As for what his dream project might be, Korins shoots for the stars. “I’d like to design the opening ceremony for the Olympics.”