On Tuesday, May 25, all attendees and sponsors at the 2010 Broadway Lighting Master Classes will attend a performance of the hit musical, Fela! On Broadway. This provocative hybrid of dance and Broadway musical, FELA! features the Afrobeat music of Nigerian musician/activist Fela Anikulapo–Kuti, with a book by Jim Lewis and the direction and choreography of Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones. The design team includes Robert Wierzel, lighting, Peter Nigrini, projection, Robert Kaplowitz, sound, and Marina Draghici, sets and costumes.
Fela! moved to Broadway after several workshops and a successful run Off Broadway at 37 Arts, and just this week, a second version of the production at London’s National Theatre has been announced. Nicolas Hytner, artistic director at the National was quoted as saying:“ ‘Fela!’ is one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had in the theater, and it will be a thrilling experience to bring it to the National.”
“The job of the designers was how to transfer the club feeling from Off Broadway to a classic Broadway theatre,” notes Wierzel, who worked closely with Nigrini for a well-integrated design comprising colorful lighting and immersive projections that wrap the audience with 14 different projection surfaces built into Draghici’s set, both on stage and in the house.
“The challenge with the lighting rig was how to keep it down and dirty with the sensuality of a gritty 1970s club in a classical Broadway theatre. We wanted to do it as Fela would have done it, but refined and reinterpreted for Broadway, as well as amped up and extended to what we expect today,” Wierzel adds. “We also wanted to pull the energy on the stage out into the house.”
"The entire upsatge wall is a two-story, translucent light box as well as the primary projection surface, and the important thing was the balance of Robert Wierzel's lighting and the projections,” explains Nigrini. “The best complement we got is that some of our colleagues couldn’t tell the boundary between the two. There are 14 projection surfaces in all and 14 channels of video to wrap the audience in images."
Registration is now open for the 2010 Live Design Master Classes, including the Broadway Sound Master Classes (BSMC) May 21-23, the Broadway Projection Master Classes (BPMC) May 24, and the Broadway Lighting Master Classes (BLMC) May 25-27. Register by April 15 and save on prices at professional, union/association, and student levels.