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BLMC Sees The Light In The Piazza

On Tuesday evening, May 23, the BLMC group of 175 people attended a performance of The Light In The Piazza, the Tony Award-winning musical at Lincoln Center Theatre. It was the perfect show for the BLMC, with LD Chris Akerlind's Tony Award-winning lighting displaying a subtle yet beautiful design scheme, with a very careful use of moving lights. Since the action is set in the 1950s in Italy, it would be inappropriate to see the automated fixtures move, so of course you don't. Akerlind used them for their power and color temperature, although when the hot Italian sun does flood the piazza with light, the sources are incandescent (large Fresnels) as the LD felt they were closer in color temperature to bright sunlight. The lighting moves from night scenes with performers moving in and out of the shadows on the piazza to a hotel room, and daylight scenes that range from the interior of a church to an apartment and a men's clothing store. The lighting is elegant: delicate at times and certainly never overblown. After the performance, Akerlind (with his production electrician as well as his programmer) was on hand to answer questions. Then the crowd was allowed on stage to see how the rig was hung and ask additional questions to the lighting team as well as some stagehands who were generous enough to stay and chat with everyone. At 11:30pm I called it a night and left a handful of BLMC attendees on stage (thanks to everyone at Lincoln Center Theatre for making the post-show discussion possible!). This is the kind of experience that makes the BLMC such a great experience. The icing on the cake was the next day when Akerlind made his debut appearance as a faculty member for the BLMC, offering an in-depth analysis of his lighting for The Light In The Piazza, and participating in a panel about lighting and projection, moderated by Wendall K. Harrington. Akerlind proved to be a wonderful speaker (he has experience from his years as a professor at CalArts) and I hope he‘ll be back next year, along with Jules Fisher and the entire BLMC faculty who really topped themselves this year!

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