Lighting Up The Holidays at Orlando Shakes
Interview with Colleen Doherty, Lighting Designer for "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)"
Stringing lights on your own Christmas tree is hard enough. Can you imagine having to string them for a theater production of A Christmas Carol, Frosty the Snowman, It’s a Wonderful Life, and every other Christmas story ever told?! Colleen Doherty, Lighting Designer for Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) and Assistant Master Electrician at Orlando Shakes, was more than up to the task!
OST: How did you get your start at Orlando Shakes?
CD: I started working as an electrics apprentice in 2013. At the end of the season Mary Heffernan, the Assistant Master Electrician (AME) at the time, decided to move to Seattle so I stepped up into her place.
OST: This is the first Signature Series show at Orlando Shakes as Lighting Designer. What does that mean for you?
CD: It means so much to me! It is a culmination of everything I’ve learned at Orlando Shakes over the last three and a half years. I’m really proud of the show. I feel like I earned it after working here for so long. It’s nice to know that I can be trusted with a Signature Series show.
OST: What has working on Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) been like?
CD: It’s been so much fun! I loved working with the other members of the creative and production team. I’ve worked with them on every Signature Series show as the AME, so to finally be able to sit at the tech table with them as a designer felt really great.
OST: What’s your favorite thing (lighting design) you’ve worked on for this show?
CD: Working with my apprentices, Elliot and Nico, on the Christmas light panels that slide in for the end of Act I and Act II. There are 42 separate circuits of Christmas lights up there!
OST: Orlando Shakes has produced this show three times in the past. What have you done to update the lighting/how did you give your own unique spin to it?
CD: That was a challenge for me! During most of the production meetings, I kept hearing about what they did last time, so I tried to keep the previous show from influencing my design. As I worked on the design I sometimes found myself purposefully making choices that were the opposite of what had been done in the past! I think I did a pretty good job of keeping true to my aesthetic while also making sure that we had all the necessary elements for the show.
OST: What’s the process of lighting the show?
CD: This show was a little crazy as far as the load-in process goes! We struck Stuart Little on Friday, November 18, and we went into tech on Friday, November 25. So the entire production department had a little less than a week (because of Thanksgiving) to load-in the lights, set, paint the floor, get everything wired, etc. It was a whirlwind of a load-in!
OST: What’s the planning process for lighting a show?
CD: As the designer, I go into production meetings months before the show begins. The first couple of meetings are design brainstorms for the whole team. After the brainstorms, I start putting together a plot and go from there. Once the plot is finished and we install it, we have a day to focus the lights, another to program the show, and then we go into tech!
OST: How many lighting units are used in Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)?
CD: There are approximately 250+ units used in the show, and 42 separate Christmas decorations that light up all over the stage.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) plays from November 30 to December 31, 2016 at Orlando Shakes. Click here for tickets and more information!
Kayla Jean Mraz, Orlando Shakes Marketing Intern