"It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night..Set and projection designer Steven Kemp has wisely chosen to suggest locations, rather than attempting realism. Mr. Kemp’s most beautifully realized effect was to create three large wagons to serve as the bunkers for the Scots, Germans and French. These long but narrow platforms had a skeletal wooden enclosure “box” that was just tall enough to suggest a trench dug in the ground. The succinct look suggested at once a prison and an exposed asylum of emotionally conflicted warriors. This important major playing space was augmented by simple additions, a few period chairs here, a chandelier there, that simply conveyed the necessary place."

James Sohre
Opera Today

"Puts’ well-crafted score, with an excellent libretto by Mark Campbell, draws the audience into the action, and a strong cast, effective staging by director Michael Shell and a shapely orchestral performance led by conductor Joseph Marcheso made Saturday’s performance an engrossing experience....Shell’s fluid production accommodates the opera’s shifts in time and locale. Set designer Steven Kemp has created a blasted landscape, with large bunkers that regroup to suggest trenches and headquarters."

Georgia Rowe
Mercury News

"A highly inventive new set design by Steven Kemp..." 

Eric A. Gordon
People's World


“CANDIDE at Des Moines Metro Opera: A Beautiful Kaleidoscope That Makes the Best of all Possible Shows

Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) opened their most recent production of Candide on June 29. The brightly colored sets and costumes as well as the extremely talented cast truly make this the best of all possible productions.

The scenic design by Steven C. Kemp is crucial to making this production concept of a kaleidoscope work. The set became its own character in the show. The set starts with a bare stage with only a wooden floor seen as the audience enters. As the curtain rises on the show we see Westphalia illustrated with the color white. As we continue in the show to each location a new color is introduced to that location. What's unique is that as we continue to each location, something stays on stage. So something white stays on stage the full show as other pieces are brought on. Some pieces were large pieces, others were small, but each color was impactful and reminded you of what Candide has seen and learned on his journey. What surprises me the most is that I could still tell you some of the colors and what region of the world they represented. To me that speaks volumes to the set design

This production was one I could watch over and over again. Each moment of the show required the sets, costumes, and actors to be at their best. The final picture we see on stage, is a beautiful reminder of what our world can be. While we all have our own beliefs, when we come together, we make something beautiful.”

DC Felton
Broadway World


“The stage environment displayed suggestive architectural forms from the creative cauldron of set designer Steven Kemp. Upright forests were eventually transformed into abstract logs that resembled a house that exploded in chaos, or perhaps a pile of about to burn kindling visually fueling the scenes, a compelling visual element that provoked comment on the disintegration of the Salem citizenry. The lighting and sets transcended the intimate stage of the historic Lobero Threatre adding a compelling impact throughout."

Robert F. Adams

“Aided by a terrific set and a marvelous supporting cast, the principals in this chilling tale delivered one of the season’s most exciting performances of any kind in Santa Barbara. With talent like this and such professional production values, Opera Santa Barbara has to be one of the most promising and watchable companies in the country.”

Charles Donelan
Santa Barbara Independent


"a truly marvelous staging by director Brad Dalton, and audiences are seduced by a night of provocative and sexy theater....throughout, this is a seductively alluring show in every aspect. Steven Kemp's impressionistic set designs, lit by Don Darnutzer, were both evocative and flowed well from scene to scene."

Theodore P. Mahne
The Times-Picayune


"It’s good news that Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory Theatre is presenting a revival of Ah,Wilderness! that is finely acted, intelligently staged and outstandingly well designed—in short, everything I’ve come to expect from Asolo Rep.

Steven C. Kemp's set design rates special praise.  The play is performed in front of a pointillistic, richly textured abstract backdrop that I suspect is meant to make us think of Connecticut granite.  Skeletal set pieces show us where we are, with realistic furniture defining the time and place more precisely---a nice blend of naturalism and poetry."

Terry Teachout
The Wall Street Journal


“Steven C. Kemp's exaggeratedly classic proscenium-frame set (expertly lighted by Josh Bradford) has a formal, discreet surface that opens up to reveal hidden gleams of startling eccentricity.  In this regard, it's an environment that matches its inhabitants perfectly.

Have you ever really seen a man with a glint in his eye? I always assumed that this image was only a figure of speech or perhaps a trick of the light, until I caught Thomas Jay Ryan in the Keen Company's charing revival of 'Travels With My Aunt'."

Ben Brantley
New York Times
NYT Critics Pick


“As designed by Steven C. Kemp (the abstract, compact set), Josh Bradford (the iridescent lighting) and Sydney Maresca (the quick-change, time-capsule costumes), “John & Jen” takes place in the sort of echoing memory tunnel that was once the province of Kodak commercials. (Remember the ones with the slogan, “For the times of your life?”)

The look is matched by Mr. Lippa’s swirling, impressionistic score, the kind that in movies is often accompanied by images of falling leaves and pages being torn from a calendar.

Ben Brantley
New York Times

"Imagination takes center stage and, set designer Steven C. Kemp uses this to his advantage, creating a single abstract environment of jutting platforms that carries us from 1952-1990 in Somewhere, USA."

Hayley Levitt
Theatre Mania


"The show has been given an attractive physical production, with a subtly poetic set by Steven C. Kemp. And it allows some fine troupers — Gerry Bamman, Richmond Hoxie and Roberta Maxwell — to paint lively portraits of aging souls suffering from ingrained corruption."

Ben Brantley
New York Times


"The actors feasibly summon a self-contained but fathomless universe within Steven C. Kemp’s forbiddingly minimalist set, in which a big, black rope is the only prop. As they go through the motions of sailing their boat — and hopefully, if futilely, trying to understand what the other is truly saying — the two men converse in circular, deliberately repetitive dialogue. The subjects include the inadequacy of words, the siren call of eternity and the concurrent pain and joy of being alive."

Ben Brantley
New York Times


"Steven Kemp has invested his stage design with elegiac imagination. Basically, the set consists of a big black wardrobe trunk and a couple of boxes that double as bar stools, but to honor the play’s setting and theme, Mr. Kemp has created an upstage diorama of stones that seem to be sprouting weeds or wildflowers. It’s hard to tell which, and that’s a lovely metaphor for the younger generation of this village."

Anita Gates
New York Times


"The scenic design by Steven C. Kemp is beautiful and ingeniously versatile"

David Ian Lee

"Scenic designer Steven C. Kemp has made wonderful use of the Cherry Lane's small stage. Some window shades rolled down a chalkboard handily transform Dov's classroom into his apartment, a few benches and a backdrop of cleverly draped sheer curtains work beautifully to convey a variety of scene shifts. "

Elyse Sommer


"Steven Kemp’s set design is painfully realistic. It’s hard to take your eyes off the stained, peeling wallpaper; the furniture with duct-tape patches; and the grossly filthy Venetian blinds. The only thing these people bother cleaning up is blood. "

Anita Gates
New York Times


"You can almost taste the whiskey-laden cups of tea served on Steven C. Kemp's vintage-furnished set that includes impressive glimpses of the bombed-out Italian countryside. Andrea Varga's sexy, '40s-era costumes and mink coats for the women add an air of glamour amid the smart brown and khaki military uniforms. Some wonderful props, notably the battered phone receiver housed in a wooden box, embellish the period atmosphere."

Jennifer Farrar

"That rude setting is meticulously rendered, down to the last grubby detail, by designer Steven C. Kemp"

Marilyn Stasio


"The first indication of success came when the curtain opened to reveal set designer Steven C. Kemp's realization of director José Maria Condemi's production concept. The brown interior of the Garter Inn, bathed in subdued yellow light by lighting designer David Lee Cuthbert, was depicted as the inside of a huge keg of alcohol, with two concentric circles arranged in a three-dimension pattern. When the action switched to a garden in Windsor, the inner circle opened to reveal the back of the brightly lit garden, before which Alice Ford, Meg Page and Mistress Quickly amused themselves as they read the identical letters they had received from the inept Sir John. The contrast between the two realities was a joy to behold."

Jason Victor Serinus

"Hats off to the costume shop at Malabar Limited Toronto (the fairy scene get-ups were especially gorgeous) and to designer Steven C. Kemp, whose big, bold and handsome sets bring to mind the interior of a beer keg -- and the state of drink-loving Falstaff's mind."

Richard Scheinin
San Jose Mercury News

"This elegant yet forceful production was directed by OSB’s Jose Maria Condemi and featured a beautiful, nearly surreal production design that originated with Steven Kemp at Opera San Jose. The set, which changed interiors multiple times over the course of Friday evening, placed all of the action within what appeared to be a giant wine cask, a context that was fitting both for Falstaff, that notorious drunkard, and for wine-mad Santa Barbara, circa 2014."

Charles Donelan
Santa Barbara Independent


"The Merola Opera Program’s production of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire plays out on a strikingly atmospheric set by Steven Kemp. Stella and Stanley Kowalski live in a run-down, squalid two-room apartment on the first floor. On the corners of the stage are battered street signs marking the way to Desire and Elysian Fields. A sign reading Cemetary looms in the background, and the railings on the second floor above them are rusted and broken. A sense that anything can befall the Kowalskis looms everywhere, especially violence, and a threat of disasters past and present permeates the stage so thoroughly it may as well be set post-Katrina."

John Marcher
A Beast in The Jungle


"The set design (Steven C. Kemp), museum-piece-like props, and glamorous patterned costumes (Johann Stegmeir) in this production miraculously brings ancient Crete back to life with an archeological accuracy that brings to mind the New York Metropolitan Opera’s famous production of Aida. Every time the curtain went up, or any time a new backdrop came down, the audience is treated to a fresh set brighter and more splendorous than the one before. For this alone, the opera is worth seeing."

"Sets, scenery (Steven C. Kemp) and costumes (Johann Stegmeir) were persuasively inspired by Minoan art, including palace rooms, projections of ships at sea with dolphins, and in Act 3, a stunning three-story facade and a final drop showing young athletes vaulting over charging bulls. Brad Dalton’s stage direction energized the proceedings"

Scott MacClelland

"No expense was spared in the physical production. Each set designed by Steven C. Kemp is thrilling, whether a palace with authentic Minoan frescos, a storm at sea or a beach and they often garnered audience applause at curtain rise."

"The exciting new production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" being staged there by Opera San Jose -- on Packard's dime, mostly -- is a jaw-dropper: sets that reproduce the Palace of Knossos in ancient Crete; a troupe of dancers from Ballet San Jose; a 40-voice chorus; plus 180 costumes and a sacrificial altar. And, oops, almost forgot -- an excellent cast."

Richard Scheinin
San Jose Mercury News


"the physical production (sets by Steven C. Kemp) conjures up a world of tasteful extravagance in a few efficient and well-chosen strokes."

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

"Brad Dalton’s stage direction and Steven C. Kemp’s set design, miraculously holds them all in balance and clarity. Librettist Colin Graham has argued that no previous version on film or in music does justice to Tolstoy’s characters and motives."

"The production looks great, thanks to the elegant Bel Époque costumes (designed by Elizabeth Poindexter) as well as the sleekly minimalist period sets. They go winging on and off stage with each scene change; avert your eyes for a second or two, and you'll miss the effect. (Credits go to set designer Steven C. Kemp and lighting designer Kent Dorsey)."

Richard Scheinin
San Jose Mercury News


"This drawing room is decidedly artistic, with cubist paintings on green walls and an upright piano in the corner. (The hardworking sets are by Steven C. Kemp.)"

Rachel Saltz
New York Times

"Having raved repeatedly in this space about the Mint's prestidigitational ability to stuff complicated productions onto the miniature stage of its 100-seat theater without knocking off any corners, I'll simply say that Steven C. Kemp's two sets are richly redolent of the flavor of their period, right down to the Le Corbusier settees with which the first-act drawing room is equipped. Likewise Carisa Kelly's early-'30s costumes, which are no less precisely and persuasively detailed."

Terry Teachout
Wall Street Journal

"the production is most impressive in Steven C. Kemp’s gorgeous, finely detailed sets for Mrs. Randolph’s sitting room (Act I) and the common room at Mrs. Ferris’s (Act Ii), and even more so in the change from one to the other during intermission. The Mint’s stage has no flies and appears to offer very little moving or storage space in the wings or behind the playing area, yet the sets for each act are vastly dissimilar in appearance. (Not only are the walls different colors, they’re also angled differently.) I’m still marveling over how the set change could possibly have been made during the course of a 15-minute intermission, but probably best to chalk it up to theatrical magic – which of course really comes down to the talents and hard work of a brilliant designer and stage crew."

Michael Portantiere


"Steven C. Kemp’s set, a slightly dingy but cozy apartment, perfectly summons the era....And yet, as directed by Jonathan Silverstein, the show advances with a crisp assurance. Mr. Hadary exudes paternal integrity, while Ms. Lowrance brings welcome glints of emerging strength to the Girl. And toward the end Mr. Kemp’s set and Jonathan Spencer’s gorgeous lighting, with hues of blue and ocher, transform the Manhattan winter into a season laden with sparkle and promise."

Andy Webster
New York Times


"This Expressionistic staging, directed by Paul Takacs, adds to the menace — the set (by Steven C. Kemp) is stark and claustrophobic, the sound design (by Jeremy S. Bloom) eerie and pervasive. Colors are washed-out and shadows creep into every corner (the lighting is by Dante Olivia Smith). It’s no surprise that the program features a work by Egon Schiele."

Ken Jaworowski
New York Times


"The characters inhabit a single space that serves as both apartments in Steven C. Kemp’s boho-affordable design. They register each other’s presence almost exclusively in imagined interludes, and yet the communion of their longing is palpable."

David Rooney
New York Times

"Thanks to a fluid, open scenic design by Steven C. Kemp, and Silverstein's graceful staging, the pair smoothly interact and perform duets that flow between their two apartments."

Jennifer Farrar


"Steven C. Kemp's economical scenic design, which handsomely indicates the inn's front porch and common area as well as the interior of the general store, allows director Giovanna Sardelli to give the episodic play a swift, fluid staging."

Andy Propst
Theater Mania

"Set Designer Steven C. Kemp has given Sardelli hugely overlapping spaces, which works perfectly here, keeping the piece intimate while maintaining separate locales."

Sam Thielman


"Although the tribal masks in Steven Kemp’s elegant set design serve as emblems of Veronica’s do-gooder interest in Africa, they also suggest that these four people — and perhaps all of us — have cultivated alternate selves that have little to do with who they really are. Veronica may believe firmly in “the soothing powers of culture,” but Ms. Reza clearly has her doubts."

Sylviane Gold
New York Times


"Those portraits turn shinier and newer, on Steven C. Kemp’s handsome set, during the 1960s flashbacks."

Anita Gates
New York Times

"handsomely furnished wood-paneled room of the exclusive school, nicely evoked by set designer Steven C. Kemp"

Simon Saltzman