My conceptual introduction to stagecraft was through the 1997 book about the Broadway production of The Lion King. When I was at school in East Lansing, Michigan, I was certain to find an opportunity to return to Metro-Detroit to see the touring production first came through town. I was starting to consider a professional journey into theatre in the early 2000’s, and when I saw The Lion King, I never recognized that a version of this same iconic production would become my future.
I consider myself fortunate to work alongside a team of creative and dedicated technicians and in the company of some incredibly talented professionals to bring this time-honored story to audiences across North America. My first encounter with a few of these same incredible technicians was back in 2005, when I was just a wide-eyed lighting technician on a North American tour of Disney on Ice. I was traveling with this production, I found a rare night away from the arena while we were in Boston and I purchased tickets to see the touring version of The Lion King. Through some networking gymnastics, I was able to connect with some people on the tour, and arranged for a backstage tour from some of the very same technicians I continue to work with today. When I began working on this new touring company of The Lion King, as an advance electrician 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 was largely responsible for my introduction into the theatre program at university; although, I never saw the path to achieving it. Eight short months later, I was offered the opportunity at the helm of this Goliath, and I was beside myself.
Throughout this time, I 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, my team and I were able to help bring this incredible story and its storied stagecraft (much of which is incredibly 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