Never mind where the bodies are buried: Let’s talk about the mountain of corpses onstage these days at the Booth Theatre.
As soon as that blood-red curtain parts and theatergoers get a gander at the set of “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” there are loud gasps.
And then . . . giggles.
Which makes sense, since Taylor Mac’s Tony-nominated play — starring Nathan Lane as a minion cleaning up the messes made by the mighty — is a comedy, albeit a very dark one.
To make it work, says Santo Loquasto, the show’s scenic designer, he had to find the right bodies.
“I like to think they’re silly,” he tells The Post, plopping himself down atop a pile of cushy, detached “arms” on his Tony-nominated stage set. “They look sloppy, like rag dolls or Cabbage Patch dolls.”
Loquasto — a Theater Hall of Fame designer who recently worked on the far less gory “Hello, Dolly!” — says he took his cue for “Gary” from its director, George C. Wolfe. He says Wolfe was after a stylized, Hieronymus Bosch-like vision of hell, rather than some jarringly realistic scenario.
“There were very nice bodies that they make for movies, but George was wildly concerned about it not looking like a concentration camp,” Loquasto says. The designer also drew on old British cartoons of war camps (“very ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ ”) and the black, white and bloody line drawings that Ralph Steadman (Hunter S. Thompson’s go-to illustrator) splashed against the theater’s doors.
The bodies themselves — life-size, faceless “scarecrow” dolls — came from a Halloween store in North Carolina.
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“I think we ordered 10 to look at, then got 100, plus about 400 assorted arms and legs,” props supervisor Ray Wetmore tells The Post.
“The limbs really give it density, and hands are funny,” says Loquasto. “And the feet can be used for the actors to climb up and down on, like newel posts.”
The props crew sewed latex masks onto the dolls, and “a wonderful, very respectable” upholsterer in Newburgh, NY, added foam here and there to make a variety of body types. She also added assorted other features — like dozens of floppy, fabric phalluses.
Loquasto recalls visiting the shop and finding them “laid out on a table, just like canapes.”
To make the bodies shine under the light, the props crew smeared them with Jaxsan, a rubbery compound used for roof insulation.
Altogether, the mounds of bodies — piled up as they are in a gilded, Cecil B. DeMille-like banquet hall — look like some macabre sculpture. Did they give its designer nightmares?
“Not at all,” Loquasto says. “Other things gave me nightmares, but the bodies were the least of it.”