By: Sean Wangnick
Cinderella was the first major production where I was assigned a leadership position. Specifically, I was head of lighting. (“Master Electrician” was the fancy name for it). It was a whole new experience for me, because until now, I was always sitting behind a lighting console. Now I was the overseer, looking after many people behind many consoles. I had a mix of freshmen and sophomores on my crew, and many had never worked a major production before. It was sort of a first-time experience for all of us, and that is what sparked the excitement for me.
Day 1: Friday, January 29. School had just been dismissed that day, and the entire crew for this year’s musical was gathering in the PAC for the first time. The energy was high and we were ready to roll! I was starting to get nervous, as the TEC calendar labeled today’s get together as a “Musical Rehearsal/Set Light Cues”. So the main purpose of today was getting the lights set for show-day.
Here’s a bit of insight on the way we light our shows: In the PAC, we primarily use two lighting consoles to illuminate various objects in various ways. First, our ETC Ion 3000 control system. It is the main console we use to light up the stage using conventional lights. We also use a Full Boar Road Hog Console for automated lighting. This is the console that is used to produce amazing effects with moving lights on stage, in the house, or just extraordinary light shows.
Both the Ion and Hog consoles are used for most shows, especially Cinderella. Throughout my Freshman year, I had learned a lot about programming moving lights with the Hog. Not only was I the Hog operator for The Nutcracker Spectacular my Freshman and Sophomore year, but I also programmed a light look for a dance in Zenith. During the actual Zenith performance, I was operating the Ion.
As expected, the first few rehearsals were a little rough. It’s difficult to stay focused! It’s not easy trying to find a strange key on a light console. Chemistry between yourself and your fellow follow-spot operator first needs to grow in order to simultaneously fade in/out. We only had a few days to rehearse, but by February 4, everyone on my crew was able to execute their job perfectly. I was extremely proud of my crew, their patience, and their willingness to learn and improve their skill set.
The cool thing about sitting in the light booth is that you can see and hear everything else that’s going on. You can see the grip crew moving scenery around on-stage in a timely manner. You can hear everything that’s happening behind the scenes on clear-com and on radio. I noticed how not just my crew improved immensely within just a few days, but the entire Cinderella crew did as well! I believe we ended up putting on a professional and successful production, all while having fun at the same time!