For our 75th Episode we present a very special group of designers. In 1989, a panel was held at the Museum of the City of New York as part of their “Direct from Broadway” series featuring some of the most influential lighting designers of the 20th century: Tharon Musser, Peggy Clark, Abe Feder and Jeff Davis, moderated by the man who followed the leads set by these pioneers and continued their legacies…Ken Billington. For the first time in nearly 30 years, hear these luminaries (pun intended) discuss their work, their process and what is was like paving the way in a design field that was just in it’s infancy. Thanks for listening for 75 episodes and enjoy this special holiday treat!
It’s episode #74 and we’re sitting down with Set Designer Luke Cantarella. Luke’s designs run the gamut from musicals to plays, opera to exhibitions, and an emerging field called Design Anthropology, where design is used to shed light on social and societally issues through exhibits or interactive experiences. One such project, entitled ‘214 Sq Ft,’ involved designing a replica motel room meant to reflect the living conditions of low income families in Orange County and the transient spaces that often become their permanent residencies. Cory and Luke also chat about designing larger than life musicals like ‘Follies’ for Repertory of St Louis and ‘All Shook Up’ at The Muny. Other topics include Luke’s eye-opening experience of designing projections only for Goodspeed’s current production of ‘Rags,’ how he totally changed his design process only a couple years ago, and what he tries to impart on his students at Pace University. And finally, they discuss something every designer can relate to, ‘sad designer face.’ But don’t be ;-( be 😉 because it’s a brand new episode!
The podcast is back and we’re not pulling any punches. Today we sit down with recent Tony Award winner Bradley King to discuss his lighting design for ‘Natasha Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.’ He traces the journey of the design from Ars Nova, where the plot was hardly more than chandeliers and lightbulbs, all the way to his massive, immersive design at the Imperial Theatre. Hear how he and director Rachel Chavkin developed the look of the show over 4 different iterations, how he ushered in the role of “Automated Light Bulb Winch Programmer” and what it’s like winning a Tony for your Broadway debut. Bradley is also very active in the 829 union negotiations and he and Cory discuss the recently updated LORT contract and review the various expenses for which designers on the road can be reimbursed. And he discusses being a young designer with a growing family and how that impacts his life and work decisions. Heat up the dumplings, pour yourself some Borsht, and join us for a great chat!
This week Sound Designer and Travel Aficionado Lindsay Jones is back for another installment of his guide to traveling and working on the road. This go round, Cory and Lindsay tackle the moral and practical realities of boycotting travel companies who’s politics you disagree with by discussing recent incidences with Delta and Uber. Other hot topics includes the best way to rent a car, why you should sign up for every car rental and hotel loyalty program, the best way to pack a suitcase, what to do if your suitcase doesn’t arrive when you do, how to get a hotel room upgrade like a total baller and Lindsay tries to convince Cory to never ever check a bag. As a founder of The Collaborator Party, Lindsay also discusses the American Theatre Wing’s decision to re-instate the Sound Design Tony and what that means for the party going forward. AND Lindsay claims once and for all that he is in fact not John Malkovich, though in1 can neither confirm nor deny that claim.
We close out April this week with Set Designer and current Lortel nominee Rachel Hauck! Aside from being a busy designer, Rachel is also a member of the Off-Broadway committee of designers that recently helped spearhead the first collectively bargained agreement ever for Off-Broadway. Now that the contract has been voted on, she joins us to discuss the nuts and bolts of how it came together, some of the most exciting terms of the agreement, and how the USA membership banded together to take such an historic step. Cory and Rachel also discuss reading a script for the first time, how she talks to directors who don’t yet know what they want, why “just” can be a dirty word in early design conversations and whether theatre design can be molded to fit a standard work week schedule. And hear how Rachel went from being an LA based designer working in television, including an ill-fated TV show called ‘Woops!’ about a group of kids who accidentally set off a nuclear bomb, to becoming a full time designer for theatre. Lastly, Rachel gives us the most fascinating answer ever to, “What job would you do if your profession went away.”
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!