Student, professor involved with musical

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Black Friday will be an intense, stressful and rewarding day for Longwood theatre professor Scott Chapman, but not because he’s looking to score the best shopping deals. Instead, Chapman will be in New York serving as lighting designer for the Big Apple premiere of “Kris Kringle The Musical,” at The Town Hall theater, which is just off Broadway.

“It’s a really fun show,” Chapman said in a press release. “Christmas is my favorite time of the year and favorite holiday, so working on a Christmas show is a dream come true for me.”

According to the release, this is the second time Chapman, assistant professor of theatre and resident scenic and lighting designer at Longwood, has been involved in producing this show. He previously served as lighting designer when it premiered in Cleveland in 2015. The production was revised last year, and this will be the premiere of the reworked version.

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In moving to New York and the midtown Manhattan venue, this year’s show is a bigger-scale production and has more prominent names involved, Chapman said.

Elton Bradley, a senior theatre major whose primary focus is lighting design and technology, will serve as assistant lighting designer and run the light board during the production. Bradley is already familiar with the equipment because the theater is using the same light board that Longwood has on campus.

“It’s really a big deal to be able to work on the show again and get to bring another theatre student with me,” Chapman said. “Working on a production is considered research and scholarship for theatre students.

Chapman and Bradley will drive to New York on Sunday, Nov. 19. During the first part of the week, they will be involved in attending rehearsals and the load-in of equipment at the venue. Then comes an orchestra rehearsal on Thanksgiving Day.

The show runs for two performances on Nov. 24 at The Town Hall, a historic venue located on West 43rd Street, in between Sixth Avenue and Broadway. Chapman and Bradley will travel back to Farmville on Saturday, the day after the production wraps.

“It will be a very intense week,” Chapman said. “It’s like going from the minors to the big leagues.”

Chapman and Bradley have been involved in production meetings via conference call since they found out in early October they would have a role in the production. Chapman has been talking to the theater’s in-house electricians about the equipment and setup.

One challenge the Longwood team faces is that the theater is in the process of switching over their conventional lighting to LED lighting. LED lighting provides greater flexibility in the design process. Another aspect of the job that will make it a different experience is that many theaters in New York are union houses. Chapman can direct where he wants the lights to go, but only a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local One can move and place the equipment. In Cleveland, he and the student assistant, Matthew Brehm, hung and ran cable for the lights for the show.

Bradley, who has been very involved in Longwood’s theatre program and most recently worked on the production of “Everyman,” will get a firsthand lesson in the importance of being a collaborative team player on a major-scale production.

“The director is counting on us to make things look good and to help tell the story,” Chapman said. “Lighting is such a powerful and important area of design because it can change the mood of the audience in a subtle way—or in a bold way. It helps tell the audience how to feel.”