Ten years ago, Kai Harada was working as an associate to designer Tony Meola on such projects as Man of La Mancha and Sweet Smell of Success; Wicked had not yet been discussed. He was also moonlighting as a writer for Entertainment Design magazine, the predecessor to Live Design. One of his favorite pieces that he wrote for the magazine discussed acoustical enhancement systems as they applied to opera sound, and this piqued an interest to play with the environment of the theatre in addition to working on reinforcement of the show.
Follies presented challenges that enabled him to tap into this interest— the scenic design called for draping the walls of the theatre in drop cloths, and although that did not hurt the wonderful-sounding Eisenhower Theatre too much, it was a fitting precursor of the acoustical challenges the Marquis Theatre would present.
In addition, coming off of a German rock-and-roll musical, Hinterm Horizont, and the London production of Million Dollar Quartet, it was his goal to do a very natural-sounding show. Follies was blessed with a great cast, the original orchestrations, a trusting and collaborative team, and the fantastic Eisenhower Theatre; all of these factors made for a successful design.