Two talented Technical Theatre experts help bring IHHS’s “Grease” to life

Two talented Technical Theatre experts help bring IHHS’s “Grease” to life
Posted on 02/16/2018
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Pow Wow season is always exciting, and this year is no exception – “Grease” is one of the most-loved musicals of all time, and our talented students on and behind the stage are guaranteed to bring it to life for us all next weekend!

This year’s Pow Wow is the first for Indian Hill High School’s new Technical Director, Scott Kimmins, who is enjoying the process of not only producing a set with many technical bells-and-whistles, but seeing theatre tech students grow and develop their skills.   

Scott, whose expertise is, in his words, “at curtain and back,” is building the set himself, instead of contracting an outside set designer. As he and Theatre Director Katie Arber discussed the concept of the show, they agreed on a few aspects: lots of color, a very graphic design, and a more “suggested” than literal world. The set is coming together with bright colors and large geometric shapes that are eye-catching and fun.

The “behind-the-scenes” aspect of the set features a number of unique technical aspects that help make it usable for the actors and easy in set changes. “It’s always a fun challenge when I design and then build my own show,” Scott says. “I very rarely throw myself a softball if I’m going to build. I enjoy using the technology in as many ways as I can to help enhance the show.” As you watch “Grease” next week, keep an eye out for things like tracking doors, rotating doors, and scenery pieces on air casters. What the audience may see as seemingly small features such as these actually have a huge effect on the show.

Scott is creating this large, complicated set with the help of a long-time colleague – and former professor – Tim Judge, who just retired from Wright State University (WSU), where he served as Technical Director for the past 25 years. “I’ve hired Scott to work with me at WSU over the years,” Tim explains, “but this is the first time he has hired me for a job.” Even though he has just started his retirement, Tim is excited to jump into this project – and not only for the love of creating theatre: “It was a generational moment when I watched Scott teaching a 15-year-old with the same language, the same information, that I taught him back when he was an 18-year-old … I felt like a proud grandpa!”

Scott and Tim have certainly had a wide variety of experiences in their time in technical theatre. They were both involved in building the 1996 Olympics set for the opening and closing ceremonies in Atlanta, and they both have worked on sets for a wide variety of shows, including performances on Broadway and for the Grammys. Those big productions, however, are not where either of them loves to be; as Scott explains, “It’s a very different atmosphere, building for large productions like those. You are working on very specific pieces, which then get loaded on a truck and driven away, while you start the next show. If you’re lucky, you get to see your pieces on TV.”

He enjoys the all-encompassing process, “from designing to building to tech rehearsals to seeing the actors on the stage and working with them on the scenery you’ve created, through opening night. That process, that’s what I went to school for, that’s the theatre part of it for me.” During this impassioned description, Tim nodded in complete agreement.

Teaching is now another aspect Scott has added to what he loves about technical theatre. “It’s absolutely fantastic to work with students who want to do this,” he describes, “who have an interest in pursuing this as a career. We have a senior electrician right now who is hoping to attend CCM next year, and a junior who’s on par with students 3-4 years ahead of him.” Since Scott’s expertise is stage and scenery, he has used his budget to provide support for the “stage and front” aspects, such as sound design: “We hired a sound designer to teach those students, since that is not my expertise, and they are getting to learn from talented professionals in the area.”

At the end of the show, both Scott and Tim feel they will be able to sit back and enjoy a job well done. Scott says, “Watching the students’ reaction and excitement is one of the happiest moments I’ve had in a while; their reaction to what we’re putting on stage for them to play with has been exhilarating.” Tim adds, “The best part of this experience has been the opportunity to work with Scott again and watch him interact with students. It’s a real rush to see him doing this job.”

As you watch “Grease” next week, be sure to appreciate not only the talent on the stage, but the talent on the technical theatre side as well!