"There wasn't anything I couldn't do with the stage lighting that compromised our imagery. The combination of the projected backgrounds and the actors in the foreground was striking."
-Barry Kemper, Lighting Designer, Alice in Wonderland
ESCAPE Youth Theater, in Santa Clarita California, the land of CalArts, Magic Mountain and College of the Canyons, is celebrating its 10th season and 4th year producing major musicals at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center. This winter an original production of Alice in Wonderland was staged for a combined audience of over 4,500 in the theater's available 725 seats. Available because the theater actually has just over 800 seats but ESCAPE's large ensemble and the crew onstage limits the audience capacity.
Past productions of Peter Pan, Sound of Music and others have been designed using traditional painted drops and scenic wagons. For this production of Alice, however, the production's Director, Kyle Burson, wanted to create a wide range of playful, fantastic imagery and project it directly on the upstage cyc.
ESCAPE and its 200+ families, whose children participated in the production, are truly a wealth of resources. Among that group are artists and craftsmen who frequently contribute to the productions at the highest level. Storyboards were created and with the requirements of the projection determined, Digital Projection was contacted to help the theater realize their vision.
With the stage alternately filled to the brim with an ensemble of 160 dancing and singing performers decked out in fantastically colorful costumes, or simply Alice captivatingly alone, the imagery projected by two TITAN 1080p-700 projectors perfectly set the mood for each scene. Production Director Kyle Burson remarked, "I feel like the projection was limited only by my imagination. It did whatever I asked it to do. The images were so crisp I felt I could climb into the picture and be lost in Wonderland." Some two dozen stills were created, manipulated and in some cases animated, to provide a much richer sweep to the production than a traditional approach to design would have permitted.
The available brightness and contrast afforded by the TITAN projectors enabled, even enhanced, the theatrical design created for the production. The lower portion of the projected image – falling across the stage floor – was planned as a sort of break-up projected pattern for each scene. All of the scenes were outdoors and this textured dual use for each image added a beautiful layer to each setting.
Barry Kemper, Lighting Designer for the production, commented "ESCAPE was fortunate to have both the outstanding artistry and technical superiority of DP's TITANs to create a truly beautiful theatrical experience to begin our 10th year!"
Kyle Burson – Director and Production Design
Barry Kemper – Lighting Design
Dorrie Deakins and Cissi Larrson-Dally – Costume Design
Nancy Hickey – Production Photographer