What a week! It was a week that couldn’t be beat…The 2008 edition of the Live Design Broadway Master Classes was an exceptional event in many ways. The professional-level training program kicked off on Friday evening, May 16, when the BSMC (Broadway Sound Master Classes) attended a performance of Young Frankenstein on Broadway. Creative consultant Abe Jacob not only asked sound designer Jonathan Deans and FOH board op/mixer Simon Matthews to participate in a post-show Q&A, but he also brought along the celebrated director/choreographer Susan Stroman, who discussed her collaboration with the sound designer and sound department in a show which has over 700 sound effects. Jonathan Deans explained all the next morning as the classes got underway at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts—and a special thanks to all at Tisch for their support.
All of the speakers at the BSMC were outstanding this year, including Deans, Peter Hylenski, Ron Milburn & Michael Bodeen, Steve Sockey, Chris Hubbard, Henry Cohen, and John Taylor. Dan Moses Schreier took a new approach, with a session on collaborating with the music director and orchestrator. He brought in top names in their respective fields: Paul Gemignani, the acclaimed music director for more than 40 Broadway shows since the 1970s—and leading Broadway orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, whose name is synonymous with great orchestrations, especially for Sondheim’s scores. What a treat to hear the panel with these three gentlemen! A cocktail party with the presentation of the Live Design Sound Products of the Year took place on Saturday evening, May 17, with two of the first crop of Tony nominated sound designers in attendance—Scott Lehrer, and Nevin Steinberg of Acme Sound Partners.
After sound came projection, on Monday May 19, with a new twist: the Projection Master Classes took place at the XL LED Lab in Soho—with a big thanks to Marcel DeKeyzer and everyone at XL Video. This exciting immersive LED environment embraced a series of panel discussions mixed with product demos, and a cocktail party with the Projection Products of the Year Awards. Speakers included DeKeyzer, David Taylor of Arup, Patrick Dierson of Artfag, Bruce Rogers of Tribe, projection designer Zachary Borovay and LD Brian MacDevitt—who presented a case study on their current musical, A Catered Affair—plus Sean Cagney of Mode Studios, programmer Peter Vincent Acken aka Evil Jesus, and Adam Dunaway of Dunaway Designs. Projection is on everyone’s radar these days and the Projection Master Classes underscored the importance of this emerging discipline.
Last, but certainly not least, was the BLMC, May 20-22, with LD Jules Fisher once again the creative consultant for the Broadway Lighting Master Classes, which took place at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts—bravo to Amy Coombs and the crew at Skirball, as well as the staff for the Eisner Lubin Auditorium where the manufacturers showcase took place…and a special thanks goes to all the corporate sponsors and mentoring sponsors of all the Master Classes.
The top-notch faculty featured LDs Fisher, Peggy Eisenhauer, Beverly Emmons & Clifton Taylor (in an updated version of their color lecture…), Brian MacDevitt, Kevin Adams, Christopher Akerlind, Howell Binkley, Donald Holder, Vivien Leone on paperwork, and Wendall K. Harrington, the godmother of projection design on… projections of course. The Live Design Lighting Products of The Year as well as Live Design’s inaugural Excellence Awards were presented on Tuesday evening, May 21, at the XL LED Lab, and on Wednesday, May 22, the Classes went to see the hip Broadway musical, Passing Strange, with lighting by Kevin Adams, last year’s Tony winner for Spring Awakening.
As attendee William Digneit said on the Master Classes blog: “Hello from the BMC. I just want to let all you theatre people out there know that the BMC is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from the best of the best. The people I have met and the things I have learned will indeed help me in furthering my career in the theatre world. Things are always changing in this world and attending the BMC allows you to stay current with everything in the theatre world.” All in all, there was a buzz about the Classes in general this year, with many industry notables stopping by at one time or another—on the lighting side we saw Cindy Limauro and Chris Popowich, John Gresch from Arri, and LD Alan Lee Hughes just to cite a few. What a week! What an event! There’s really nothing else like it. Really!