Hello Dolly! Project
Jerry Herman & Michael Stewart
Class: Lighting Design III
Professor: Bryon Winn
Budget for this Design Area
Comments by the Designer
Hello Dolly! is a classic musical depicting the exploits of Dolly Gallagher Levi as she meddles her way into the life of the wealthy Horace Vandergelder as his supposed matchmaker, all while assisting the lovestruck Ambrose in his bid to wed the client’s niece, Ermengarde. Through witty, comedic musical numbers and grand parades of dancers, Dolly takes the audience through one of the most iconic examples of the golden-age musical.
This project tasked me with the puzzle of creating a conventional lighting design for this complex musical using a set number of instruments and a list of problems to solve. Without the crutch of the endless color selections of LED light and moving lights that provide multiple specials, I had to create a viable and visually appealing world of color and illumination.
Along with other obstacles, the main challenge of this project was to create a design that worked with Oliver Smith’s scenic design for the original Broadway production mounted in 1964. This includes large scenic wagons and multiple traditionally painted drops. While this class project relocates the production to the Miskoff Theatre, where there are considerably more space and power resources, there were still a lot of problems to solve.
The musical is comprised of 15 different locations, a cast of over 35 people, and 18 individual musical numbers, this production is not a light undertaking. A versatile lighting plot that is flexible enough to cover all of these locations and highlight solo moments is necessary. Choosing a color palette that maintained the classic feel of this musical era while also granting me the tools I needed to move the cast from location to location was one of my biggest challenges.
Relying on skills that I developed early in my career, before access to LEDs and moving lights was readily available, I carefully calculated lighting positions that would serve me in multiple locations, saving a few fixtures for scene-specific moments like the Feed Store balcony, the courtroom dinner table, and the Harmonia Gardens booths. Ultimately, I chose a mixture of pinks, blues, and ambers in ranges from pale to saturate. Sticking with these three colors allowed me to mix to create romantic exterior and interior scenes, as well as moments of suspense.
I judiciously used my followspots to highlight moments when I needed isolation within musical numbers and created a cue list that covered getting me in and out of scenes and numbers. This ultimately landed me with a light plot containing almost 500 lighting fixtures throughout 23 different positions. While acknowledging that I had access to more power and technology than the original, it was still a challenge to find a way to create the world of Hello Dolly!.
Copyright 2020 Courtney Gaston