Dayton Ballet unveiled An American Cinderella, an adaptation of the romantic classic, on Valentine's Day. The story was updated to 1927 New Orleans at Mardi Gras. Dan McLaughlin, Dayton Ballet's TD/LD for six years, used a "storybook" approach.
Large set pieces for later scenes are preset upstage, masked by black drops, so the recurring house scenes take place downstage, cutting down on lighting positions. "The house is warm, with lavenders and pinks from the front, and Broadway Pink and R84 blue from the back, and then using my pipe ends I had deep lavender and amber," McLaughlin explains. "I use the pipe ends because I can shutter cut to the legs and create an alley of light. That was important because the house scenes play so far downstage."
McLaughlin opted not to use followspots, partly for financial reasons but also because he didn't want to tell the audience what to look at; he employed footlights because this production would tour to theatres with no balcony rail positions. The footlights could be used for subtle frontlight or for garish effects on the stepsisters.
Some of Cinderella's lighting was built into the set for the courtyard ball scene. At each wing is a practical lamppost, and behind each window in the backdrop is an amber-gelled ellipsoidal. For Ella's midnight escape, the designer used unusual ground row colors such as red, green, and purple, that flashed on and off.
During the Prince's around-the-world search, he visits three regions: the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and North Africa, three cultures which have had an influence on New Orleans. The rolling units that make up Ella's home become projection screens when turned around, and the LD combined gobos with a range of colors for these scenes: palm trees and waves in blues and greens for the islands, a flame-red buddha on a deep blue-green breakup for Asia, and layered star patterns in ambers to create a sandstorm effect for Africa.
The wedding scene is sleek and dramatic, with Ionic columns along the sides and back, voluminous swags of white drapery across the back, and a curving staircase. The LD insisted on a star drop, which was made by punching small holes in a black drop, reinforced with grommets. "All we have to do is put cyc lighting behind it," says McLaughlin. "It's effective and low maintenance." He textured the drapery with a leaf gobo and straight white light, and "bombed" the staircase with white. He tuned the rest of the set to a cool aqua blue with R60, R63, and R65, and filled in from the sides with pale pinks and lavenders.