So whatever happened to the dog days of August, when nothing much happened and everyone went to the beach? Between early August and early September, we've seen the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Boston and New York, respectively, the Summer Olympics in Athens, the kickoff of the Broadway season with the new musical Dracula, the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami, plus who knows how many parties and other ancillary projects corresponding to each event. A lot of people apparently kept very busy during a time when they might normally have been living their own little Corona commercial. The most impressive thing to me was that each project contained so much great design.
You're holding the first cover of ED (or even Theatre Crafts and TCI for that matter) with a political convention on the cover. This year's Democratic National Convention in Boston was one of the most visually dazzling I ever recall seeing, at least in terms of design. (I'll leave the actual content up to the pundits.) The lighting, staging and projection were all equally well done, and from the comments by sound designer Pat Baltzell in John Calhoun's report on the event (page 24), the audio was the most complex aspect of all. If it weren't for those $*&@# balloons, I'd have given it a perfect 10.
Speaking of perfect 10s, the Olympic opening ceremony was quite an eyeful as well. Though some of it was a little overly conceptual for my taste (Who exactly was the blue dude hovering over everything? And why does every opening ceremony insist on having a wide-eyed kid?), there were moments that were quite powerful. The Greek statues that came to life were riveting, and who can resist Bjork floating in the air as her dress unfurls to cover an entire stadium? Now that's what I call a show! We'll be offering a full report on the ceremonies next month.
Speaking of next month, you can also read all about a slightly less successful production, the Broadway musical Dracula. I wouldn't say it sucked (sorry, couldn't resist), but let's just say it may not be around come Tony time. Still, there were some notable design elements thanks to the efforts of Heidi Ettinger, Howell Binkley, Catherine Zuber, Michael Clark, and Acme Sound Partners, and we'll provide you with coverage of the prince of darkness in the November issue.
Speaking of creatures of the night, there were two notable elements to this year's MTV Video Music Awards: the massive sprawling set, which took up a huge chunk of the American Airlines Arena real estate, and the humidity. Holy cow, what a lot of sweat! I'm sure everyone tuned in for the music, and hey, I'm a fan of Outkast like everyone else, but my personal favorite moment of the evening was the appearance of Dave Chappelle, my new hero. (It's a celebration, bitches!)
And finally, speaking of hip-hop stars, the Republican convention is underway in New York City even as I write this. (Look, sorry I ran out of segues, what can I say?) Have yet to see much of the design for this event, but I hope to get a chance as the week progresses. The most impressive part of the GOP convention thus far is that it seems to have done what none of the other events could achieve — clear the streets of New York. With the exception of the Republican delegations, looks like everyone chose this week to hit the beach. I like having the city to myself, but I'd like to live my own Corona commercial even more. Oh well, I guess I'll just watch the rest of the convention. I just hope those $#&%@ balloons drop this time.