Gear Review

The new Chauvet Professional Épix Tile 2.0 Square-Shaped Panel
The new Chauvet Professional Épix Tile 2.0 Square-Shaped Panel
Chauvet Professional’s new Épix Tile 2.0 is designed to work seamlessly with the other members of the Épix 2.0 pixel-mapping LED display series. The new Épix Tile 2.0 is a square-shaped 11.8-inch-by-11.8 inch (300 x 300 mm) panel that contains 160 Tri-Color (red, green, blue) SMD LEDs with a 25mm pixel pitch. With its potential 3,290-nit output and a wide 120° viewing angle, it is designed for creating bright, bold, exciting motion graphics displays. It can be linked with the linear fixtures in the Épix 2.0 series (Épix Strip 2.0 and Épix Bar 2.0) to set up full-color pixel-mapping displays in a variety of sizes and configurations.

Read more: Chauvet Professional Épix Tile 2.0 Square-Shaped Panel

Gear Review

A final page export of Die Fledermaus, stage managed by Briana Maxwell.
A final page export of Die Fledermaus, stage managed by Briana Maxwell.
Stage managers find much to love in Stage Write, but do its benefits justify its cost?

Can a blocking app for the iPad be worth a $199 price tag? The growing interest in the Stage Write app, released in 2012 by Open Jar Productions, prompted the graduate stage management program at the University of Iowa to test it on a variety of productions over the course of 10 weeks. The testing group consisted of Leigh’Ann Andrews, Adriana Fernandez, Kathleen Hains, Alison Kochman, Amber K. Lewandowski, Kelsey Petersen, Rachel Winfield. I moderated the tests and collected the students’ reactions. Here are our conclusions. 

Read more: Getting Stage Managers Off Book

Special Effects

Prospero and Ariel (Tom Nelis and Nate Dendy) conjure a storm at the top of The TempestTeller's vision for a magical Tempest called on all areas of stagecraft

In The Smith Center and American Repertory Theatre’s new production of The Tempest the show starts with the classic shipwreck—but with a playful twist. Prospero creates the storm in a large glass bowl of water and sinks a paper ship. The Neopolitans throw themselves around the stage simulating the sinking, Ferdinand gets thrown overboard—and suddenly it’s no longer playful. Ariel grabs Ferdinand, shoves him face down into the bowl of water, and holds him there, letting him thrash and drown in full view of his father—and the audience. And with that, Teller serves notice that this version of The Tempest will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. 

Read more: Shipwrecked in the Desert

Special Effects

Darren Jinks used Ben Nye makeup to make a silent film, black and white look for an LA Opera production of The Magic Flute
Darren Jinks used Ben Nye makeup to make a silent film, black and white look for an LA Opera production of The Magic Flute
How SFX crews create the effects that make your show truly special

Special effects got their name because they’re, well, special—as in “otherwise different than usual.” And things that are different than usual take a little more time to figure out and get right. Enter the special effects specialists. We talked with SFX experts across the entire range of possible effects to learn how they work with theatres to design an effect, how they make it actually happen—and what you can take away from their process. 

Read more: Figure It Out

Light On The Subject

Kevin Adams’ lighting design ensures Neil Patrick Harris (and his wigs) pop as Hedwig.
Kevin Adams’ lighting design ensures Neil Patrick Harris (and his wigs) pop as Hedwig.
Virtuoso lighting designer Kevin Adams brings his vision for Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s biggest transformation yet

Widely respected lighting designer Kevin Adams has certainly made his mark illuminating unconventional musicals on Broadway, from Hair to American Idiot. This season, Adams meets the unique challenge of revisiting his own unique concept for the beloved rock 'n' roll musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, now on Broadway for the first time at the historic Belasco Theatre. Adams originally designed Hedwig Off-Broadway in 1998 at the smaller Jane Street Theatre, collaborating closely with the show’s creator and original star John Cameron Mitchell. Years later, after scores of additional productions worldwide and countless accolades, Hedwig has taken Broadway by storm; the show’s sellout run, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Neil Patrick Harris, has earned fantastic reviews and numerous Tony nods (including a Best Lighting Design nomination for Adams, who has won the award three times previously). Now that the scope of the show has been updated and expanded, how has Adams refined and realized his original vision? 

Read more: Shine a Light

Answer Box

Choices in rehearsal at Purdue University
Choices in rehearsal at Purdue University
EDM meets theatre with Choices, and gets a control network to make it happen

Choices, a development and research project helmed by Rick Thomas, faculty sound designer at Purdue University, is a foray into the world of electronic dance music, with more than an hour of music and interactivity created entirely by Thomas and students at Purdue. Layered on top of that is a narrative about love, honesty and the choices we make to hurt each other or to love ourselves and those around us. To make it all work as a show requires authentic concert elements: splashy lights, immersive video effects and loud, loud music. And, right, there’s an interactive game in which audience members/concertgoers use their smart phones to make suggestions about what should happen next—suggestions that end up projected on the back wall of the venue. 

Read more: Dance to the Music

Sound Design

The cast of Heathers: The Musical
The cast of Heathers: The Musical
Jonny Massena, sound designer for Heathers: The Musical, battled time and space to make sure the show sounded right

Working on Broadway shows can get one used to certain luxuries in terms of budget and time. That concept can be relative from show to show, but sound designer Jonny Massena really got a taste of extremes when he took time off from mixing Jersey Boys in New York to design the sound for Heathers: The Musical for its L.A. debut and subsequent Off-Broadway run at the New World Stages. 

Read more: Hurried on Heathers

Company 411

Whirlwind USA portable power distro units
Whirlwind USA portable power distro units
“Electricity is not going to go out of vogue, and it doesn’t require software and it doesn’t require updates. It just requires buying equipment conscientiously." —Michael Laiacona

Whirlwind USA started out 39 years ago as a cable manufacturer. In the years since, Michael Laiacona, the president and founder, has shepherded the company through seismic changes in the industry. It continues to blaze trails in interface gear, including becoming a UL-listed shop so that any power distribution equipment they manufacture—whether it’s a one-off or not—meets that code. We talked with Laiacona about the opportunities and responsibilities in infrastructure. 

Read more: Whirlwind USA

TD Talk

Bill Sapsis
Bill Sapsis
​Stage rigging uses gear from across industries and it’s up to us to understand its limitations


Ask Uncle Bill is a recurring column in Stage Directions that wants to answer all your rigging questions. Think of it as a print edition of the “Stump the Rigger” session at USITT. Got a question you want Bill to answer? Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Not long ago a reader wrote in asking what the markings on shackles meant and what purpose they served. It was a good question and I hope I answered it to their satisfaction. [Check out the Feb. 2013 issue to read it in full. –Ed.]

I think it’s now time to take our understanding of hardware markings a step further. The issue at hand is making sure we have a clear understanding of what the different information—be it stamped, engraved, embossed or whatever—that is found on different types of hardware and gear actually means. After all—and no offense to my esteemed colleagues in lighting—if you misread a lens tube and get the 36° fixture as opposed to the 26° fixture, it’s not that big a deal. Get the load wrong on the lighting batten itself and you have a very, very big deal. 

Read more: Defining Terms

Editor's Note

SD Editor Jacob Coakley
SD Editor Jacob Coakley
In which I reveal that I'm not above bribery in order to start a discussion

One of the projects I have been working on the past few months is to start up a theatre awards program here in Las Vegas to honor locally-produced, Off-Strip theatre. There’s a burgeoning theatre scene here, and the time seemed ripe. We launched in January, and even though we’ve faced a couple bumps along the way we’re starting the production process for our first awards show this July. 

Read more: Building Consensus

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