Hello Gentle Reader!
It has been a bit, hasn’t it?
I hope you are well and healthy and had a lovely weekend.
Sadly, I found out about two people passing away. Each dear to me in their own way and neither in the same relation circle so it’s like which ever way I turn to face, I have to look at sadness. 😒
On Sunday, I found out that my cousin, Scott, but we always called him Scotty, had passed after he’d been hospitalized and a friend from the theatre, Mike, had passed on Saturday.
If there was one great regret that I have about stepping away from family functions and such it would be because of missing my cousin Scotty. He was fearless. A little reckless, but always willing to try dares, and especially gross food mixing stuff. I remember my aunt always yelling at him for doing something but one of the main things was reaching over and honking the horn while she drove under an overpass near their home. He did it every time, so I don’t know why it always surprised her, but it did.
One of my most favorite memories was when my dad took us and my little brother to see 101 Dalmatians in the small movie theater in the neighborhood. I remember there weren’t many people in the auditorium but we were up near the front. Then the scene came on where Cruella DeVil is driving furiously to catch the large truck the dogs were in and she has to miss the bridge and drive down an embankment and into a pile of snow. As she is driving the embankment, she is bouncing all around in her car and Scotty lets out his crazy laugh that has a sort of Pee Wee Herman quality to it. It sounds to old to be a child’s laugh if that makes any sense. Think Ricky Ricardo having a belly laugh. Any how, he lets out this big “HA HA” that is so loud it makes us laugh. Then, after Cruella has got back on the road, there is a point where her hair is all crazy and there is a close up on her red eyes and they have that spiral going on in them.
For some reason, that just makes him laugh more. This in turn makes us laugh and all the way through the rest of the scene up to the crash, we are laughing so hard because of his goofy laugh.
I am gonna miss that crazy kid, but so thankful that he showed me what being fearless looked like.
Mike was a different kind of cat. He was an excellent lighting designer. His credits are in the hundreds, easily. Maybe even more but I know he worked on many of the same projects that I did. I do believe that the first show I had met him on was Gypsy. I didn’t really get a chance to know him until I was in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
We would talk about his love of dance, the shows that he saw in New York, the show he was going to see on his next trip and sometimes about when he had done shows. I used to think that he was a grumpy man, but I came to realize that he just had a very serious face unless he was smiling or laughing.
I had never seen this happen ever, but once, I think it was during the opening weekend or maybe after the Friday night show of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, somehow, all of the lighting cues were deleted. All of them. There was nothing and Mike came in and overnight recreated the entire show. When the cast came in for our call, we had no idea until the stage manager had mentioned it. Insane!
I think my favorite thing that I will remember with Mike was working on the lighting for my directorial projects. As a cast member to meet and interact with the lighting designer is fun and cool but as a director your interactions are much more intense. I always would give him so much sass about having to use a fog element in his designs and once he explained it to me, I couldn’t unsee how much it helped.
On Jesus Christ Superstar, not the aforementioned, at the start of the 39 lashes, the lights were much less red and you could see the faces of the upstage cast. As the lashes continued, so did the deepening of the red and we thought pulling the light from the incredible upstage cast would make a kind of hellish looking landscape as they would show as silhouettes and could bring more to the contrast in their position as encouraging the punishment versus when they had supported him. I wish I had a picture from the actual production. This is from tech week.
On Smokey Joe’s Cafe, above is probably my most favorite shot I have of the entire process. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore the cast, but sitting side by side and trying to find the most perfect hue of various lights in the different areas was the most unexpectedly fun part of directing. The back record neon isn’t on and this little moment before we added any color felt like making magic.
Thanks for piquing my curiosity in lighting design and teaching me other ways of thinking about how storytelling can be fascinating and wondrous. Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas.
So pull up a chair and until our paths cross again, my friend, I shall always remember you at your “desk”