Lionheart Volunteer Spotlight: Tanya Moore, “Don’t Dress for Dinner” Set and Props

Tanya Moore, a steadfast Norcross community volunteer, spent 30+ years designing applications in the IT world. Now retired, sort of, she takes pleasure in using her artsy-craftsy skills to produce award winning set designs, decorating, and finding/fashioning show props for Lionheart Theatre Company.  Her creations have graced the sets of Lionheart's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, The Hundred DressesA Year with Frog and Toad, Charlotte's Web, You Can't Take It With You, Run for Your Wife,  A Raisin in the Sun, August: Osage County, and The Foreigner.

Currently Tanya Moore is putting the finishing touches on her latest masterpiece…the set for Don’t Dress for Dinner. And it is stunning!

How did you get involved with Lionheart Theatre Company?

“Just 4 years ago, after a mentally exhausted 30-year career in systems design, I walked into Lionheart, my neighborhood community theater, and volunteered.  In this 140-year old church, on my little 13”x28” of real estate, Tanya Caldwell gave me the most rewarding and lowest paying job of my life, where I go home bruised, painted, and physically exhausted."

Tanya Moore's set design for "The Foreigner"

“Apart from that, Tanya Caldwell is a friend and a great supporter.  We also have wonderful volunteer carpenters and lighting people who bring my sketches to reality and have taught me so much.”

What excited you about working on Don’t Dress for Dinner?

“A few years ago, this show was playing at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the play, I remembered it having an interesting set décor.  Also, the director, Marla Krohn, and I have worked on shows together in the past. So for me, it was easy to say yes to help out with this production.”

Describe your set design process.

“The fact that this show is set a few hours south of Paris in a country house that once was an old barn would give me some interesting décor options. I love the colors and prints of the Provence region, so I decided that is where this house would be located.

The first thing I do is go online and look for pictures of sets others have done for the play. While we don’t have the space or the budget as a Broadway production might, I still like to use for inspiration.  Next, I usually get the script and read through it looking for time, place, number and types of entries/exits, features such as windows or stairs, lighting needs, and furniture needs.

Most importantly, I talk with the Director about their vision for the set.

Once the vision is understood and set, the scale diagram of the Lionheart stage is used to start to an initial plan of walls, windows, doors – a construction plan.  Next furniture placement.  Once rendering is complete and approved, I start looking for set pieces and props. From there it is time to get to work with the carpenter and start building.

Do you attend rehearsals for the show?

I attend as many rehearsals as possible, as it helps to know how something will be used. How many people will need to sit on the sofa at once? Will that coffee table need to be strong enough for someone to stand on it? Will that window be covered? Will it need to open? Where do we need a light switch? Will the food need to be eaten?

Tanya Moore's MAT award-winning set design for "A Raisin in the Sun"

Do you have any set design secrets to share?

One of my secrets is that I have great friends and neighbors who loan me obscure props! Once I had to find a 1900’s table top printing press and a model of the Queen Mary for You Can’t Take It with You. The first came from a neighbor’s living room, and the second I made out of cardboard and hot glue.

Thank you so much for your time today, Tanya, and thank you for being one of our favorite set designer, volunteer, and friend of the community.

Lionheart has so many ways you can get involved with opportunities both onstage and backstage. If you would like more information on volunteering, please contact us at

And don’t forget to get your tickets for “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” showing March 30-April 15 at Lionheart Theatre Company.

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