We talk to Tony Nominee for best lighting design: Kevin Adams of Spring Awakening.
Broadway credits include The Good Body (National Tour), Take Me Out, Sexaholix (HBO and national Tour), Hedda Gabbler, A Class Act, An Almost Holy Picture. Off-Broadway includes Mr. Marlade, Spatter Pattern, And God Created Great Whales (scenery and lighting), The Mineola Twins (Lucille Lortel Award), The Persians, Stupid Kids, new work by Anna Deveare Smith, Eric Bogosian, Neil Simon, Richard Greenberg ,and Charles Mee Jr. Opera: The Mines of Sulfur (NYCO, Glimmerglass), Washington Opera, Bard Summerscape, Tanglewood, Canadian Opera Co., Kennedy Center, Houston Grand Opera. Concerts: City Center Encores, Audra McDonald (Joe's Pub, Town Hall, Lincoln Center, American Songbook), Patti LuPone, Sandra Bernhard, The Indigo Girls, Magnetic Fields (69 Love Songs, Lincoln Center American Songbook). Other: seven companies of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Westbeth, Jane Street, Chicago, Boston, L.A., Edinburgh Festival and London's West End), Steppenwolf Theatre, Williamstown, Atlanta Ballet, Sandra Bernhard's Without You I'm Nothing (film). Obie for Sustained Excellence.
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Broadway Bullet Interview: Tony-Nominated Lighting Designer: Kevin Adams
Broadway Bullet: I'm sitting here with Kevin Adams, just shortly before the Tony Awards. And I have to say -- I don't want to wish any bad mojo on him -- but I'm very excited because I think he's a lock to get the award. I will just be dumbfounded if he doesn't take the award. But, in addition to doing the lighting design for Spring Awakening, he's also done shows such as: Passing Strange, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and a lot more. He's here to talk about his unique style, and everything he does. How are you doing?
Kevin Adams: Hi, Michael. I'm well, thank you.
BB: So, to get it out of the way, the inevitable: how are you feeling about the Tony Awards?
KA: I'm feeling great, and I can't wait for it to be over. I can't wait to be on the other side of it all. It's neat, but we opened five months ago -- five and a half months ago -- it's just going on and on and. I'm ready to move onto a new place in my life.
BB: Now, one of your big things in your lighting design, is it's not just invisible -- it's just not up in the rafters, it's on the set, it's on the stage. How did you come about that theory, because I understand it's not just Spring Awakening, you do this in other works, too.
KA: It's been a very long path for me to use this stuff. I actually trained to be a set designer, and I never had any interest in lighting. And I wasn't a trained lighting designer, or -- I just never really had any interest in it. I graduated, I got a degree in theatre design, from California Institute of the Arts, in the mid-eighties and I moved into Los Angeles because I thought I wanted to be a production designer in film and music videos, what I was really into at the time. And I was designing live performance -- I always really liked live performance, and really wanted to work in live performance -- but there weren't that many options in Los Angeles at the time. But I started going to galleries and museums with all my artist friends from Cal Arts, and I started seeing that Los Angeles has a huge amount of light and space work, in their museums, in their permanent collections, and also, they bring in work to show. And I started seeing work by all these artists, who use illuminative objects to frame space, and to make sculptural things, and to light space. And I had never really -- It just made me really see and appreciate light, and things that light, in a whole new way. It made me see those for the first time. And so I started lighting my sets with those things that I was seeing in galleries. And my little set design career was just chugging along so slowly in Los Angeles, at the time, and immediately, all these really interesting artists picked up on this lighting I was doing. There were a lot of performance artists in Los Angeles -- all over the country -- in the late-eighties and early-nineties, but several, like John Fleck and Rachel Rosenthal, and these really interesting performance artists called me up, and said: "I want you to light my work,; you're lighting is really cool." And I was lighting Sandra Bernhardt concerts, and the actor's gang, and the lighting thing just took off. And I really just taught myself, like the nuts and bolts of it, and I got a TCG fellowship (for designers) to, sort, of help me learn more about the regular stuff. But a lot of it was based on using all these things I was finding in hardware stores that I had seen these artists use, likeL fluorescent tubes and light bulbs, light bulbs, light bulbs, and all this stuff. So, I've been working with those things since about '88 or '89, and that's when I started lighting my little sets.