Backstage at Saturday Night Live

On our last night in New York, Vivica and I headed over to Fifth Avenue.

There is currently a Saturday Night Live exhibit containing a huge inventory of costumes, props and information about the show.

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The exhibit takes you through the process of creating the show from Monday up until it airs live on Saturday.

First off is Lorne Michael’s office, the creator and first producer of SNL. His office as well as the designers and writers rooms are on the 17th floor of 30 Rock.

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On Monday the writers pile into his office to pitch ideas and receive info about the host.

Below is the second version of the Home Base set, where the host starts off the show.

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Tuesday is writers day. The writers write out all their scripts, often working through the night to meet their deadline.

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On Wednesday, the production staff read through the scripts to check for any issues. Then the writers, producer, cast and production heads gather around the conference table in the writers room to read all of the scripts.

On Wednesday night, the writers find out which scripts are chosen to be on the show. Directly after that, the designers begin drafting out the sets.

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At 6 am on Thursday morning, construction of the sets begin in the shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

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Back at 30 Rock, rehearsals begin in the studio on the 8th floor. Extras are hired; props, costumes and wigs are designed, bought or built; pre-recorded segments are started; and sound effects and lighting designs are created.

Below are some of the many sets and costumes displayed at the exhibit:

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Make-up tables and quick change booths.

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Who can forget Kristin Wiig’s characters?

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Or when Tina played Sarah and Amy played Hillary.

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Here are Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s cheerleader costumes.

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On Friday all departments are in full swing. Pre-recorded segments are filmed, photos are taken, sketches are rehearsed and rewritten, cue cards are written, pre-recordings are finalized, and most of the set is shipped over from Brooklyn by the afternoon. The painters start working on the sets, and work through the night.

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Saturday morning, crews are putting final touches on their work. Performers now in costume, have one last chance to rehearse the sketches, and the writers are still making re-writes! Production Assistants quickly write out new scripts and cue cards.

The first audience arrives at 8:00 pm to watch the dress rehearsal, and then a new group come in for the 11:30 live broadcast.

Here’s how Vivica thinks the director is looking right about now.

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Then we entered the cross-over to the stage.

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And then we ended up here!

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We didn’t even know this tour was a thing, so we were really lucky to stumble across it the first time we walked down Fifth!
If you love SNL, or love seeing how a production is created in just 6 days, you really should check out this exhibit! We had an amazing time!

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