Set design dazzles audiences at Denmark High School school plays

Dave Babiash's endless hours building sets begin months before the performance

Denmark school play set building

DENMARK, Wis. (WBAY) – In recent years, a local high school has received rave reviews for its fall musical.

That’s thanks in part to the countless volunteer hours from a retired Marine, who’s created theatrical sets rarely seen at the high school level.

Inside Dave Babiash’s shop just outside Denmark, there’s a hint of Broadway in the sounds of construction.

“Always gotta be building something. He just took me away from building bird houses,” says Babiash.

After serving in the Marines and building homes for 30 years, Dave volunteered 3 years ago to build theatrical sets for Denmark High School.

A godsend talent, according to the school’s musical director Dave Harper.

“When I sat down and I said, ‘Dave, this is kind of what I’m picturing,’ and he says, ‘Give me a picture,’ so I didn’t have to give him any specifications, no numbers, no design to scale, he basically sees a picture and builds it,” says Harper.

“Well, I’ve had a lot of compliments on it. Everybody thinks wow, makes you feel real good when you see the expressions people have because that’s your gratification,” says Babiash.

Scenic designs for “Aladdin” and “Mary Poppins” were Dave’s first creations.

He’s now finishing up the set for “Les Miserables.”

“He’s very particular, very meticulous, he has an idea and knows the best way to do it,” says Harper.

Dave’s endless hours building sets begin months before the performance.

“The fact he’s willing to work all summer long and in the fall to make sure we have the majority of our set done, that the kids can actually use it and practice, it’s huge for them,” says Harper.

And it’s those kids, and their appreciation, that makes Dave feel as if he has the greatest unpaid job in the world.

“I just love doing it, so much fun, different type of kid when it comes to the plays, their whole perspective is different. What do they say to you? Well they call me grandpa,” says Babiash with a tearful smile.

“Les Miserables” at Denmark High School opens Saturday, November 5, with performances through November 13th