April 29, 2015 at 5:30pm

Art of Lighting

Lighting and stage design are areas of theatre that bring out the dynamics of a production and help guide the audience through everything created on stage. Broadway Lighting Designer Marcia Madeira emphasized the importance of those aspects while instructing theatre students during a residency at Millikin University in April.

Throughout her visit, Madeira worked with students on a number of topics and assisted with lighting and stage design for Millikin's production of "And The World Goes 'Round," a musical revue featuring the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb from shows such as "Chicago" and "Cabaret." Performances were held April 24-26.

"It was fun visiting with classes and working with the students," said Madeira. "The students were eager and they were very excited to see demonstrations of colors and lights on fabrics, showing them what happens, and what works and doesn't work."" 

A Tony Award-nominated Lighting Designer, Madeira also won the Drama Desk Award for "Nine," starring Raul Julia and directed by Tommy Tune. Madeira's other Broadway designs include "The Music Man" with Dick Van Dyke, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd, and "Marilyn, An American Fable" with Allison Reed and Scott Bakula. Her career in lighting design has spanned 50 years.

"We had a great opportunity to work with costumes," said Madeira. "When you put costumes under a stage light, certain color differences show up even more than in daylight, you don't see it as much until you put various colors on stage."

Sean Morrissey, interim chair of Millikin's Department of Theatre and Dance, added, "I think our students gained valuable experiences from this residency. The performers were inspired and excited by the lighting, as well as the students who had the opportunity to work directly with Marcia and collaborate with her on the process."" 

For the production of "And The World Goes 'Round," Madeira worked with four Millikin students who programmed the light board, two student-assistants who recorded the spotlight cues, and the stage manager.

One of the students who worked with Madeira was Therese O'Shaughnessy, a junior design and production major from Oswego, Ill. O'Shaughnessy says the experience was helpful in understanding the business. "To work with a professional that's been in the industry so long is incredible. Marcia knows the business and it's always nice to learn from someone that has that experience. She taught me a lot about color mixing, and watching her thinking process was very helpful because she knows so much about design and programming."" 

In addition to sharing her expertise on stage design, Madeira visited several Millikin classes to speak about the entrepreneurial approach freelance artists must take toward managing their careers.

"In other classes, I would ask the students about what type of lighting they would use on certain paintings," said Madeira. "We would then shine the colors on the paintings to teach the students to see the whole picture and understand where to focus. It was a good process and it was an interesting challenge."" 

Madeira has also developed Ice Show Lighting Designs for Royal Caribbean Cruises. She designed numerous regional theatre productions for The Huntington Theatre in Boston, Mass.; The Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Pa.; Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y.; and The Alliance in Atlanta, Ga.

Tiffaney Beachy, a senior design and production major from Washington Terrace, Utah, said, "It was a wonderful learning experience both on the electrician side of things as well as design. Working alongside Marcia and seeing the logic and artistic reasons for why we used specific colors and certain intensities made this experience unlike any other."


Theatre & Dance