Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat

Charles R. Wood Theatre | Glens Falls , NY | May, 2017

Adirondack Theatre Festival


Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat


Nikko Benson & Benjamin Halstead


Marshall Pailet

Musical Director

Madeline Smith


Maxx Reed

Scenic Design

Jason Sherwood

Costume Design

Sera Bourgeau

Sound Design

Jon Fredette

This modern EDM retelling of the life and times of controversial inventor Nikola Tesla completely revolves around the progression of electrical technology and lighting invention and innovation, so we all knew from the beginning that the lighting design was going to be a fundamental part of the audience’s experience. The writers have woven a variety of light-based symbolism and metaphor into almost every scene and every character, so it was up to the Director (Marshall Pailet), the Choreographer (Maxx Reed), the scenic designer (Jason Sherwood), and myself to come up with all the ways to bring that to life onstage. From my earliest conversations with Marshall, we were both determined to give each musical numbers its own distinctive look and feel, and base many of them in specific lighting gestures. In some cases, this means the actors are holding and dancing with hand-held lights ranging from little LED finger lights to tungsten-filament Edison bulbs, to cool-white CFL bulbs to Tesla’s famous Plasma Globe. In other cases, it means heavy usage of practicals including colored fluorescent tubes built into the set and an upstage wall which contains an array of 620 light bulbs which can do tricks like spell the name of their inventor, “Edison”. Other times still,  this means calling heavily on the extensive lighting rig overhead.

Read more about the design and the process here.

Photos by Jake DeGroot and Todd Bissonette