The 1997 hard cover book about the initial conception of the Broadway production of The Lion King was my first introduction to stagecraft. When I was attending Michigan State University, I made certain to make the time to return to Metro-Detroit to see the touring production first came through town. I was just considering a professional journey into theatre in the early 2000’s, and while I was watching that touring production of The Lion King, I dreamed big and hoped maybe one day I would work on something that magical. Little did I know.
I consider myself fortunate to work alongside a team of creative and incredibly dedicated technicians and amazingly talented professionals to bring this time-honored story to audiences across North America. My first encounter with some of these same incredible technicians was in 2005, when as a young and wide-eyed lighting technician, I found a rare night away from the arena where my tour of Disney on Ice was performing in Boston, and I purchased tickets to see this same touring version of The Lion King again, but this time at the Boston Opera House. Through some networking gymnastics, I was able to connect with a few technicians working the production for a backstage tour from some of the same technicians I continue to work alongside today.
When I began work as an advance electrician on this new touring company of The Lion King in early 2017 it was a dream come true. Working on the production –and with some of the technicians on this team– was a goal that I set early in my career and that night watching the production in Detroit in the early 2000s was largely responsible for my first steps towards work in this industry. Throughout this time, I have managed the department of 8 technicians responsible for the successful installation, maintenance, and operation of the multi-million-dollar lighting system for this revamped North American touring production of the Disney blockbuster. Traveling to 29 cities in 20-months, our lighting department was able to help bring this incredible story and its incredible stagecraft (much of which still similar to what I first read about in the Lion King book 20-years before) to audiences across the continent.
photo by Daniel A Swalec