Episode 70 is direct from Cory’s kitchen and it’s with Lighting Designer Paul Toben. Paul is currently in town serving as the Associate LD for the new Broadway musical ‘War Paint,’ but he’s with us today to do some deep excavating into the true nature of being a working designer. Cory and Paul trace their 10 year friendship and explore topics such as varied career paths, how he measures personal and professional success, how he finds happiness and fulfillment through his work, and how theatre can play a role in our extremely divisive political climate. Paul also shares insight from working with great designers like Ken Billington, Paul Gallo and Kevin Adams, recalls what it felt like designing a Broadway show in his twenties, and tries to tackle the question all designers ask themselves from time to time: “Do I still love what I do?” And lastly, no conversation with Paul is complete without touching on his other great passion in life, Baseball.
Cory has a day off out of town with little to do but sit and chat with another awesome designer, so this week we bring you a brand new episode with Sound Designer and very distinguished gentleman, Alex Hawthorn! Aside from following in the footsteps of past guests with fantastically groomed facial hair (Mr Zinn and Mr Nigrini), Alex is one of the leading Associate Sound Designers on Broadway, on the cutting edge of new advents in sound design technology. Fresh off his collaboration with Ken Travis on “In Transit,” Alex discusses the myriad of difficulties in finding the right sound for Broadway’s first a capella musical. With in-ear monitors for every cast member, a backstage mixer, hundreds of cues that only the performers hear, and no band to hide behind, the sound design plays a starring role. Alex and Cory also discuss the optics of where the Sound Designer sits during tech and how that can help shape the ongoing discussion about sound as a craft vs art. And they bounce around to other topics including the revolutionary approach to how you hear the performers at ‘Aladdin’, the transition from associate to designer, how sound designs are adjusted for touring productions, and naturally, the best BBQ in Kansas City!
This week’s guest is Projection Designer Peter Nigrini! Peter is currently represented on Broadway with ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and he takes us through the process of creating over 4000 pieces of video content and how he blended reality with artistry in creating the social media pages that make up the bulk of the projected content. He and Cory also discuss how a projection designer prepares for tech, how to prepare a director for the process of working with projections, why where the projection tech table is located matters, and how he came to join the creative team of ‘If/Then’ as the show was reconceived for the National Tour. And Peter muses on how the world of Instagram has turned every casual photographer with a phone into a content creator, using imagery to tell a story and shape a narrative Enjoy!
It’s 2017 and we’re going to Hollywood! Or at the very least, bridging the gap between theatre and film as we sit down with the man responsible for the look of the Academy Awards, the NBC Live Musicals, and over 35 Broadway shows, it’s Scenic Designer Derek McLane! Derek keeps busy on both coasts and around the world but he’s with us today to give us insight into his work. He tells us about designing 4 years of Oscars broadcasts from how he begins the design, the unique parameters the show presents, how he embraces both grand and intimate gestures, and how he keeps it fresh from year to year. Derek and Cory also chat about his various designs for the NBC musicals from ‘The Sound of Music’ and how they nearly built the Alps on top of a roof on Long Island, to December’s full scale backlot set for ‘Hairspray’ and the months of work it took figuring out how to lay out the various sets. Also packed into this episode are stories from Derek’s work with The New Group, how he balances work and three kids, and he teaches us all about fly fishing!
Just before we say good riddance to 2016, the podcast is back with one more episode with Lighting Designer and four-time Tony Nominee Japhy Weideman. Japhy is fresh off the hit show ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ and he tells us about the challenges and nuances of lighting a musical in a black void filled with projected imagery. Cory and Japhy also talk about his style and approach to lighting with examples from his work including ‘Bright Star’, ‘The Nance’, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Visit.’ He talks about his love of strong single sources, why focus is an important time of discovery, and how he uses a American/European hybrid magic sheet. As if he weren’t busy enough, Japhy is about to tackle his biggest Broadway design yet with this Spring’s upcoming ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and he let’s us in on how he is preparing for the show he describes as “essentially two giant musicals.” Enjoy!
We’re mixing up the format again this week as we sit down not with a designer, but with the man in charge of handling the contracts for ALL designers, it’s United Scenic Artists Business Rep for Live Performance, Carl Mulert. Carl is the go-to-guy for all contract and union related issues for designers working in theatre and he’s with us today to talk about everything you’ve always wanted to know about USA but were afraid to ask. Cory and Carl cover a multitude of topics including when to join the union, how to join, the different kinds of contracts covered by the union, how collective bargaining and negotiations work, how pension and welfare contributions work, how the union can help you, and how YOU can help strengthen the union. They also briefly discuss the difference between working in the US and working in the UK where designers are not covered by a union. This episode is a must listen for young designers going into the business and probably a good refresher for existing members. There’s a common phrase among designers who need assistance or have questions navigating their contracts…”Call Carl,” over the next two hours, it should become clear why. Enjoy!
We interrupt your August to get you in the room with the guy who created the Room Where it Happens…it’s “Hamilton” Set Designer David Korins! David and Cory chat about the evolution of his Tony nominated set for the cultural phenomenon and the myriad of ideas, inspirations, and evolutions that led up to the set we see today. He also takes us into the design process for “Grease Live” and how he and Tommy Kail created an immersive, interactive world that set a new bar for live television musicals. Other topics include David’s strong social media presence and how he’s using Instragram to reveal a part of the process not usually shared, how he’s grown his studio into a full-service design firm with often over a dozen employees, how he utilizes his array of assistants and associates, and how setting new goals each year helps inform the projects he takes on and the relationships he pursues. David is a giant in the world of scenic and production design with projects ranging from theatre to retail, to film and TV, to restaurants and industrials, but if you want to hear a Non-Stop account of What Comes Next, why he wouldn’t be Satisfied to Take a Break, and how he continues to Blow Us All Away, then Meet Him Inside our exclusive interview. Boom!
This week we welcome back the very first guest to ever sit down for an interview, it’s the return of Sound Designer Lindsay Jones! But this is no ordinary episode. Lindsay is the undisputed king of travel tips, tricks, hacks, secrets, and every other solution to making life on the road as stress free as possible and he joins us today to share with us his wealth of knowledge and experience. Cory and Lindsay chat about airline preferences, loyalty miles, perks and upgrades, best and worst airports, booking websites, what to do if your flight gets canceled, car rental insurance and a whole host of other related topics. They talk about the thankless job of Company Manager and the role they play in making travel arrangements for designers. And as an added bonus, Lindsay shares with us a fascinating tale from his current show ‘Privacy’ at the Public Theatre, which may or may not involve a certain US Citizen living in an undisclosed location in Russia. If you’re a designer who travels a lot, this episode is required listening and will hopefully be the first in a series with Lindsay as he helps everyone learn how to save the tears for opening night, not the Delta terminal.
Welcome to Episode #62 with Lighting Designer David Weiner! David recently returned from 10 weeks in Disneyland lighting the all new theme park show ‘Frozen: Live at the Hyperion’ and he’s here to tell us all about it. He discusses the differences between a theme park show vs a traditional Broadway musical in terms of reproducibility, maintenance, gear choices, and design inspiration. Cory and David also deep dive into his many other projects including the challenges presented by revolving sets in ‘Misery’ and ‘Grace’, lighting ‘Godspell’ in the round, and his foray into architectural lighting design, including the Nature Research Center in Raleigh, NC. They also muse on many moments of the tech process including dry tech, working with programmers at different levels and reading the room. And hear about how the makers of Viagra benefited from David’s lighting brilliance!
It’s another first on this week’s episode as we welcome our first director. But not just any director, it two-time Tony nom (and theatre heartthrob) Alex Timbers! Alex is here to give us an insight into the production process from a director’s point of view. He chats with Cory about first design meetings, what is going through his head during tech, how he approaches designers with notes, and his thoughts on paper techs and dry techs. Learn why he has started creating ‘mission statements’ for every show and hear stories from some of his most exciting adventures including ‘Rocky’, ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’, ‘Here Lies Love’ and his many downtown shows with Les Frerses Corbusier. And if you’ve never heard about Alex’s avant-garde production of “How to Succeed…” then gird your loins, because no show is safe from the Timbers treatment!