FIVE QUESTIONS FOR Neil Mazzella, Hudson Scenic


Known primarily for production design, custom scenic fabrication, and automation services, Hudson Scenic changed gears when lighting designer Don Holder turned to you for a lighting rig for La Cage Aux Folles at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway almost two years ago. This marked the company's entree into more of a one-stop shop than just a set construction company. Now, you're even providing audio solutions. How did this change come about, and what's been going on since?

Hudson Scenic Studio Inc., now 26 years old, was always trying to broaden its sales base by looking at new market opportunities. In the end, we realized what we always truly knew: we are a primary vendor to the Broadway community. So instead of concentrating on finding new clients, we concentrated on the ones we already had and realized that selling scenery was only part of what they wanted. We then expanded our electrical capabilities and opened Hudson Sound and Light.

How did you get involved in this industry?

My undergraduate degree was in liberal arts literature with a minor in dramatic art. When I began my career in Off Off Broadway in 1973, I did everything — acting, designing, stage managing, and house managing.

Since I was working for free, I had no problem finding a job. After several months, off-Broadway theatres started hiring me as an electrician, and my professional career in technical theatre began.

What are you currently working on?

Theatre operates on the school calendar, and we had what I consider our biggest fall semester ever. Scenically, we did Mary Poppins, The Times They Are a-Changin', Spring Awakening, The Apple Tree — all Broadway productions — as well as Finding Nemo-The Musical in Orlando. For the spring, we will be delivering Spamalot to Las Vegas, The Color Purple to Chicago as well as The Year of Magical Thinking and Talk Radio to Broadway.

What does the next year hold for Hudson Scenic? The next five?

In the next year, Hudson needs to expand its lighting division and make it just as viable as the scenic division. Over the next five years, we need to solve some of our real estate issues connected to our expansion and growth. We have just begun to have an impact on providing services worldwide, and that is an area we are excited about developing.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

After 14 years in business, our foreman, Bill Taylor, retired from our industry. He came to me and thanked me for providing a company and environment that enabled him to finish out his career in an exciting and productive business that challenged him right until the time he left. That is when I realized that Hudson was a serious company that not only provided scenery, but also a quality of life for its employees that depend on the success of the company to pay their rent, pay tuition, and in every other way, take care of their families.

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