Participants at the 1998 Broadway Lighting Master Classes found themselves entranced by that Ragtime beat. The smash Broadway musical was the centerpiece of the classes, presented by Entertainment Design magazine in association with Sonny Sonnenfeld December 10-13.
There were several new aspects to the 98 classes, beginning with a new venue at Fordham University, located near New York's Lincoln Center. Offered for the first time was an optional automated lighting tutorial on December 9, conducted by Jim Waits of Vari-Lite, Inc., and using equipment from Vari-Lite, Strand, ETC, Compulite, and A.C. Lighting/Flying Pig Systems.
The classes got underway on Thursday, December 10, with creative consultant Jules Fisher presenting a broad overview entitled "One Approach to Theatrical Lighting." He was followed by Donald Holder, the Tony- and Drama Desk Award-winning LD of The Lion King. Next up was special effects master Chic Silber, then Gil Wechsler, former resident designer of the Metropolitan Opera. That night, attendees saw a performance of Ragtime.
On Friday, December 11, Beverly Emmons spoke about "Issues of Style in Lighting Design," providing varied examples from her own work. She was followed by Fisher and Eisenhauer providing a case history of Ragtime. Eisenhauer then partnered with followspot operator Bert Morris for a session titled "Incorporating Followspots in the Creative Process." The afternoon was devoted to Wendall K. Harrington, who discussed her career as a projection designer, and Luc Lafortune, who talked about his lighting designs for the Cirque du Soleil.
Friday evening got underway with a pair of special events. First came a panel on the landmark Broadway musical A Chorus Line, sponsored by Production Arts and hosted by Steve Terry of the PRG Lighting Group. It featured LD Tharon Musser, sound designer Abe Jacob, Gordon Pearlman (who created the landmark LS-8 computer lighting system for the show), sound designer Otts Munderloh (the production sound engineer), production electrician Gershon Shevett, and Baayork Lee, a member of the original cast who has staged many national tours of the show.
This was followed by the Entertainment Design Awards and a festive Christmas party. Winning companies included, on the lighting side, Altman, Clay Paky, Diversitronics, Le Maitre, Vari-Lite, and Wybron, and, on the sound side, Apogee, BSS Audio, Gefen Systems, Mackie, Sennheiser, and Wireworks. Other winners included the design team of the current Broadway revival of Cabaret, the technical team behind the scenery and lighting of the recent Lincoln Center Theatre revival of Twelfth Night, the designers of Cirque du Soleil and the architecture firm Sceno Plus, and the Henson Creature Shop.
On Saturday, December 12, electrician Steve Cochrane delivered a lively presentation titled "Getting the Show Up and Running," then Eisenhauer returned to discuss "Cueing the Musical: Timing and Rhythm." The all-important issue of paperwork was discussed by Vivien Leone. Stan Pressner and Clifton Taylor presided over a session on color. Danny Franks ended the day by discussing his work adapting stage productions to television.
The finale came on Sunday, December 13, with a brunch panel at the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, featuring a number of Ragtime creative personnel. Besides Fisher and Eisenhauer, the lineup included sound designer Jonathan Deans, scenic designer Eugene Lee, and lyricist Lynn Ahrens. Costume designer William Ivey Long, not a part of Ragtime, was on hand as well.
Besides these sessions, attendees took part in a special Manufacturer's Showcase held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, featuring exhibits from A.C. Lighting, Altman Stage Lighting, Avab/Transtechnik, City Theatrical Inc., Group One/Clay Paky, Compulite R&D, ETC, GAM Products, High End Systems, Le Maitre Special Effects, Lee Filters, Martin Professional, Rosco, Strand Lighting, Strong International, Vari-Lite Inc., White Light, and Wybron Inc. A new attraction was a light lab featuring filters and patterns from Rosco, Lee, and GAM Products.
The Broadway Lighting Master Classes will return this year--tentatively December 8-12 at a location to be announced. For more information, phone 212/229-2965, ext. 829.