UPDATE: I’ve done this show twice now! The second time was just as special and we made some huge steps forward in the process of developing this show, thanks to the support of the wonderful Geffen Playhouse in LA!
Lights Out: The Nat King Cole story is a brilliant new musical written by Patricia MacGregor and Coleman Domingo that premiered at People's Light just outside of Philly. The piece takes place during the final taping of The Nat King Cole Show, following Nat's internal struggle between sticking to the clean charm that first got him on the air and wanting to use these last few moments of screen time as a chance to "go out with a bang" as his friend Sammy Davis Jr. (played by my buddy D Watts) advises him to do.
It was a small production, but I was able to get a couple tricks into the show: there was a piano onstage (pictured in the first photo below) that, while practical, wouldn't be played live in the show. I was able to place a speaker in the fascia of the stage directly under the piano to act as a "source", so when I sent the keyboard signal to that speaker, along with a little bit of panning, it sourced to the onstage piano, without anyone needing to take piano lessons. Additionally, I hid a small wireless microphone in the larger period mic prop (second photo) which gave a slight aural shift when someone was performing out to the "live audience" of the Nat King Cole show, versus their normal show dialogue.
It was wonderful to work with John McDaniel again on these absolutely classic songs. The whole cast was lovely to work with and the process went about as smoothly as one expects a new musical to go! I hope I get to work on the show again in the future, as it's a piece full of aural opportunities and the subject matter, sadly, remains as relevant today as it did in 1957.