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Meet the Director of “Dazzle the District: Lighting the Legacy”

Published April 23rd, 2014 by | No Comments

Geoff Yaw, creative director at Think Media Studios, shares some insight into the creation of “Dazzle the District: Lighting the Legacy,” premiering on Cleveland’s own WJW Fox 8 on Saturday, April 26 at 3:30 p.m.


What is your role?

As a writer/ producer/ director, it’s my job to come up with a vision for a project like this and to see that vision through to the end. That is probably the most basic way to describe it. It’s my job to figure out the story that should be told and what the audience will eventually see on screen before we start. Will there be interviews? Voiceover? How should the images we create look and feel? What are the aspects of the story that are important to focus on? How will we establish tone? These are all questions that need to be answered before we unpack the cameras. On set, I am generally the person directing the crew and putting the camera into situations that will help to tell the story. I’m very lucky to work with a bunch of very talented people. When we’re documenting a process, the construction of one of the gateways, for example, I tell my crew what I’d like to see and then I generally get out of the way. If we’re interviewing someone, it’s my job to guide the on screen discussion. My responsibilities then extend into the editorial process.

How do you approach a project like this? Where do you start?

The most important step is to understand what it is that you’re documenting. You have to get the lay of the land and understand who the characters are. Once I feel like I have my arms wrapped around that I develop an outline. Having this outline is a big help in guiding what we should be focusing on in any given situation. What the outline doesn’t cover is the unknowable, and sometimes the unknowable has potential to give you something much more entertaining than what is found in the outline. When making documentary projects, you are inundated with unknowable situations. It’s a constant decision-making battle between using your time to capture outline topics or choosing to go “off script.” Sometimes you choose and pray. Viewers of this special will definitely see some unknowable situations that came to light during production.


You captured a lot of footage. How do you decide what makes it and what doesn’t?

As I mentioned earlier, I have the privilege of working with very talented people. For editorial, I’m teaming up with editor/producer Keith Potoczak on this project. It’s true: you shoot a lot of footage for a project like this. This is where the outline comes back into play again. As we go through production, I make changes to the outline that fill in the blanks and account for the unknowables that we encounter. This information generally dictates what stays in and what goes. It’s basically a matter of finding the best stuff that tells the story in the best way and then using craft to shape the story in the most compelling way. Simply put, if it doesn’t advance the story, it goes.

Aside from possibly having too much footage, what were the major challenges?

Editorial is always a challenge and this project was no different. In production, I’d say the biggest challenges for us were the same ones the installation crews faced. The physical elements began their installations in February and many installations happened at night…in Cleveland…during one of the coldest winters in decades. ‘Nuff said.

Did you have a vision for this project from the outset? Or did it evolve over time?

There was definitely a vision and it did evolve. The thing you generally don’t know from outset is who all the players are and how they will come across on screen. There are some big personalities on the team that provided some opportunities for humor that I didn’t necessarily anticipate. Also, in the beginning I was on the fence about using voiceover narration as a storytelling tool. As the edit started taking shape, it became pretty clear that we would need it to advance the story in a concise way.

What do you hope people come away with after watching this?

My goal with this project was to get the audience to understand the broader importance of this undertaking. I think that it could be easy to see this project through the lens of “PlayhouseSquare decided to build and install some impressive looking things.” This is in part, of course, true, but to me there is a much deeper symbolic meaning to the project that speaks to the identity of PlayhouseSquare and greater Cleveland as a whole. I hope that the audience sees the heart and soul that PlayhouseSquare and the team put into the project.

What is your favorite “Dazzle the District” element and why?

I think my opinion on this may be controversial. I don’t like to pick favorites, but I really love the retro sign. It’s extremely visually impressive and I love that it’s a throwback to the origins of the district.

Final thoughts?

The story we’re telling with “Dazzle the District: Lighting the Legacy” is part vision, part design and part engineering. If you know anything about PlayhouseSquare’s past, you’ll start to detect a theme for most of the important moments in the organization’s history. This story is about people coming together to get something done that hadn’t been done before or was thought to be impossible (like building the world’s largest outdoor chandelier).

Think Media


Learn more about the Dazzle the District project and May 2 celebration and lighting ceremony at

Think Media Studios, Cleveland’s leading video and event production company, produces award-winning video, feature films, and multimedia assets for a wide range of uses.

Top 6 Rock Musicals

Published April 22nd, 2014 by | No Comments

With American Idiot coming to CLE this weekend, we can’t help but think about the legacy of rock musicals that transcended the theater to become a form of social commentary. Hair rallied for the sexual revolution, RENT for HIV/AIDS patients, and Green Day’s American Idiot for an escape from suburban life. With these classics in mind, we compiled a list of six well-known rock musicals that changed the face of theater. Did you favorites make the list?

HairHairHair follows the story of a group of young, politically active hippies as they struggle in the face of the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution. The show, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with music by Galt MacDermot, started Off-Broadway in October 1967. After it opened on Broadway in April 1968, Hair was nominated for Best Musical at the 1968 Tony’s. Some songs from the show even became Top 10 hits!

Jesus Christ SuperstarJesus Christ SuperstarJesus Christ Superstar, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with music by Tim Rice, follows Jesus and Judas Iscariot through the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. The show opened in 1971 and was nominated for Best Original Score at 1972 Tony’s.

RENTRentRENT follows a group of poor New York City residents in the age of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Jonathan Larson wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. RENT opened in January 1996, won the Tony for Best Musical that year, and has become the 10th longest-running Broadway musical in history.

Hedwig and the Angry InchHedwig And The Angry InchWith text by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, Hedwig and the Angry Inch follows a transgender front man of a German rock and roll band. The show opened Off-Broadway in 1998 and the first Broadway production, starring Neil Patrick Harris, recently opened in March 2014.

Spring AwakeningSpring AwakeningSpring Awakening, with music by Duncan Sheik and script and lyrics by Steven Sater, opened in December 2006. The show, which follows German teenagers as they discover their sexuality during the late 19th-century, won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction, and Best Score. Rumors of a film adaptation continue to swirl, especially after Steven Sater said he hopes to make the film this year.

Green Day’s American IdiotAmerican IdiotBased on the music of Green Day, American Idiot opened on Broadway in April 2010. The show, written by Billie Joel Armstrong of Green Day, is set after 9/11 and follows three men as they escape suburbia and discover what it means to have a meaningful life. The show was nominated for Best Musical at the 2010 Tony Awards, Won Best Scenic Design of a Musical, and received a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album in 2011.


Are you ready to let out your inner rocker? Join us April 25 – 27 when Green Day’s American Idiot comes to Cleveland. See you there!

This week’s theater news blog…

Published April 19th, 2014 by | No Comments

Jersey Boys trailer

Theater news for the week of April 11 – 18, 2014

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway …

Jersey Boys Movie Trailer Released
The Broadway musical – turned movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, released its first trailer this week. The Four Seasons are set to take over the big screen on June 20. Read more (

Olivier Award Winners Announced
On April 13, hosts Gemma Arterton and Stephen Mangan announced the winners of the 38th annual Olivier Awards. Rory Kinnear won Best Actor for Othello at the National Theatre and Lesley Manville won Best Actress for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios. For the complete list of winners, click here (

Daniel Radcliffe Leads “The Cripple of Inishmaan”
The Harry Potter star and Broadway veteran, Daniel Radcliffe, has returned to the Great White Way to lead the dark comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan in its first Broadway run. The show opens April 20 at the Cort Theatre. This will be Radcliffe’s third Broadway run after performances in Equus and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Read more (NY Daily News).


Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Flanagan’s Wake -  Kennedy’s Theatre
Informed Consent – Second Stage
Cleveland Ballet Youth Company: Where It All Began – Hanna Theatre
CSU Spring Dance Concert 2014 – Allen Theatre
Green Day’s American Idiot – Palace Theatre
Murder Ballad – Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre


Share your thoughts on this week’s news below, or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

This week’s theater news blog…

Published April 11th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week of April 11-18, 2014

Jersey Boys Broadway Montage

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway …

Jersey Boys Becomes 13th Longest-Running Musical
After 3,487 performances, Jersey Boys is officially the 13th longest-running musical of all time! The Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning musical opened in 2005 and has been seen by 19 million people worldwide. Jersey Boys comes to PlayhouseSquare May 6 – 18. Read more (

Michael Cera to Make Broadway Debut
The Hollywood actor, Michael Cera, is set to star alongside Kieran Culkin and pre-teen fashion icon Tavi Gevinson in a revival of Kenneth Longeran’s This Is Our Youth. The production, which illustrates the limbo between adolescence and adulthood, opens in New York on September 11. Read more (The Hollywood Reporter).

The King and I Musical Expected in 2015
The beloved show, The King and I, is set for its first revival production since 1996. Kelli O’Hara, the star of The Bridges of Madison County and four-time Tony nominee, is expected to headline the show, which will open at LincolnCenter in the Spring of 2015. Read more (

Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Clybourne Park – Cleveland Play House
Flanagan’s Wake
Scab – Cleveland State University Dept of Theatre & Dance
As You Like It – Great Lakes Theater
Jessica Lang Dance – DANCECleveland
Informed Consent – Cleveland Play House

Share your thoughts on this week’s news below, or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!


Flashdance In CLE!

Published April 4th, 2014 by | No Comments

Did you catch Corey Mach and Syndey Morton earlier this week on Fox Morning News, New 102, and The Plain Dealer’s Entertainment section? We got to know the leads of Flashdance during their Cleveland press adventures on Wednesday. Corey Mach, a Strongsville native, told us he was very excited to perform for a theater full of friends and family and Sydney Morton, of Cincinnati, dished that she spent time with Berry Gordy while on tour with Motown The Musical’s original cast. (Fun fact: She’s on the Motown poster on the Palace Theatre doors!)  If you missed Sydney and Corey’s interviews, we captured the highlights for you!

Fox Morning News

Fox 8
The List
Cleveland Scene
Corey Mach
Cleveland's New 102
Cleveland's New 102

Want more? Get the full interviews here:

Fox 8
New 102
The Plain Dealer

This week’s theater news blog…

Published April 3rd, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week of April 4-11, 2014

Disney’s The Lion King provides an impromptu performance for plane passengers!

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway …

Broadway vet Jesse Tyler Ferguson to host 2014 Drama League Awards
Emmy nominee and Broadway veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson will host the 2014 Drama League Awards on May 16. The ceremony will include special honors for Barbra Cook, John Tiffany and Key Brand. Nominations will be announced later this month on April 23.  ( Read more.

Disney’s The Lion King surprises with impromptu performance
The cast of Australia’s Disney’s The Lion King decided to hold an impromptu performance  -  on a plane ride. The group was flying back to Sydney after an appearance in Brisbane and decided to burst into “The Circle of Life” prior to take off. What a fun treat for the passengers! ( Read more.

Hats off to Kyle Dean Massey and Ciara Renee
Hats off the Kyle Dean Massey and Ciara Renee – the two stars took their first bow under the big tent of Pippin on Broadway on April 1. Massey is currently starring as the title prince and Renee, a Baldwin Wallace University Graduate, is starring as Leading Player. Check out these photos from their first Pippin curtain call here. Pippin comes to PlayhouseSquare as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series February 3-15, 2015. ( Read more.

Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Clybourne Park – Cleveland Play  House
Flanagan’s Wake
Flashdance The Musical – KeyBank Broadway Series
Scab – Cleveland State University Dept of Theatre & Dance
As You Like It – Great Lakes Theater
Bob Woodward – Town Hall Speaker Series
Theresa Caputo
Robert Pinsky – William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series
Jessica Lang Dance – DANCECleveland

Share your thoughts on this week’s news below, or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

An Interview with Flashdance Costume Designer, Paul Tazewell

Published March 31st, 2014 by | No Comments


Paul Tazewell

PlayhouseSquare writer, Robin Pease, spoke with five time Tony nominee Paul Tazewell costume designer for FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL. Tazewell has designed for Broadway shows Memphis, The Color Purple and In the Heights. Nationally, his work has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera and internationally for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, the Kenyan productions of The Birds and Take Flight, and the story of Amelia Earhart, produced in Japan.


PEASE:  You are from Akron!  How did you get from there into costume design?
TAZWELL:  (Laughs.) I am. BuchtelHigh School had a performing arts focus with at least two productions every year and an agreement with the University of Akron for interships. So I was exposed to a lot of theater that was above what most high schools were doing in the area. I originally wanted to be a performer, but there was another side of designing costumes and scenery that I enjoyed. I went to Pratt Insitute for a year. The idea was to audition for productions, study dance and singing, but with the culture shock of going from Akron, Ohio to New York City, after a year, I decided to transfer to North Carolina School of the Arts. I entered as a costume design major, then I went to NYU for my graduate degree.


PEASE: What’s your process for designing costumes?
TAZWELL:   After reading the script, I find out the director’s concept of how they want to tell the story. Then, I research, go to my laptop and collection of books, read critical essays of the period. I put together two-dimensional images that speak to what our conversation has been saying about the production. From research, I start to draw it out, making sketches of all the different characters and thinking about qualities of fabric, what colors I want to use. Knowing how fabric is going to move in space; if they are costumes that are going to dance. Making choices if it needs to stretch or be light and fluffy or snappy, jazzy, hot and sexy. As I make the drawings, I take all these qualities into consideration. I am receptive of the period and create style lines that look 1920s or 1930s or whatever the show is. I end up with a stack of sketches that get painted. All these sketches are approved by the director and choreographer. Since the colors that I use will work in a specific way, I check in with the scene designer. But the design is just the beginning. We start working with a regional theater or shops where you bid the sketches out and get prices. I might have to redesign to make it a little less expensive or make it more theatrical because the design needs to fit within the parameters of what the budget will allow. Keep massaging the design until it all makes sense. When the cast is set, we get measurements and then shop for fabric, hats, shoes and clothing. If you’re building, there are drapers, dressmakers, tailors and mock-ups of the basic version of the design done to get the right fit on the actor’s body. There might be shifts in what the design is for that actor specifically, choices that feel right for the actor playing that role.


PEASE: So, you don’t just design the costume, you are in for the whole process from start of the design to the finished costume.
TAZWELL:   Yes, I leave once the production is open. On a Broadway show or tour, if there are new people that go into a specific role, I might come in to recreate the same design. Or if it’s a celebrity, there might be a new design specific for that celebrity. Other than that, there are people that maintain the production. I might visit to make sure the design is holding up, but largely I’ve done what I’ve been contracted to do once the show has opened.


PEASE: What’s your favorite period for design?
TAZWELL:   I prefer creating a full and abundant world of images, so I tend to do a lot of musicals, classics and opera. Pieces that are set in a period other than the contemporary world allows for more creative input.


PEASE: How many productions do you work on at once?
TAZWELL:  I average three at a time, at different stages. I might be having coversations about one or two shows that are not happening for another year and another production happening in four months. Then there is a production that I am in tech for with previews tonight with another production starting up in a week and a half. A lot of scheduling goes on to make it all happen.


PEASE: Actors have agents. How does a costume designer find work?
TAZWELL:   Directors. Sometimes the theaters know me and suggest my name, or I’ve worked with a director before and they ask for me. Keeping up contacts is the most important.


PEASE: The story of your mother putting food coloring on your high chair as your introduction to art, is that true?
TAZWELL:   (Laughs.) It is true. From the age of three, I used to be fascinated with the boxes of food coloring and playing with them. It is why I was drawn to theater. I grew up being asthmatic and didn’t go out and run around with other kids. Because I spent a lot of time inside, my mother came up with activities to keep me busy. That’s how I learned to sew and draw. From a very early age, I was painting, playing and experiencing color.


PEASE:  This is FLASHDANCE. Will we get to see any ripped sweatshirts?
TAZWELL:   That’s still in there. There are certain things we had to hold on to. Loosely set in the ‘70s-‘80s, it’s not a wax replica of what that period is. We’ve kept it relatable, but not feeling it is a send up of the ‘70s show. We wanted parents feeling nostalgic for the film, but also to experience it new with their children. It was a film that was very close to my heart in high school, the aspiration to perform. Now to be designing it is wonderful. I hope you enjoy it.



This week’s theater news blog…

Published March 28th, 2014 by | No Comments

If I Then to release cast album this June.

Theater news for the week of March 28 – April 4, 2014

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway …

Newsies celebrates two years on Broadway
The cast of Newsies celebrated two years on Broadway on March 26. The cast celebrated after the show with a sweet Newsies inspired cake and cast picture. Newsies dances into Cleveland in November 2014 as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series.  ( Read more.

Pippin celebrates their first birthday on Broadway
Patina Miller and the cast of Pippin threw a party for their first birthday on Broadway! After the March 26 matinee performance, the cast celebrated with a whimsical cake and circus celebration. Pippin tumbles into Cleveland in February 2015 as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series ( Read more.

If I Then to release cast album
The cast album for the new musical starring Idina  Menzel, If I Then, is set to start recording their cast album on April 7 with a June 3 release date. If I Then began preview performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 5 and will officially open on Broadway on March 30.  ( Read more.

Jonathon Groff and Lucy Liu to announce 2014 Tony nominations
Jonathon Groff and Lucy Liu will co-host the 2014 Tony Award nominations announcement on April 29 at the Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel. The nominations will be aired live at 8:30 a.m. EST on CBS This Morning. ( Read more.


Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare
Clybourne Park – Cleveland Play  House
Jim Gaffigan
Flanagan’s Wake
Tyler Perry’s Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned
Bobby McFerrin
Flashdance The Musical – KeyBank Broadway Series
Scab – Cleveland State University Dept of Theatre & Dance
As You Like It – Great Lakes Theater

Share your thoughts on this week’s news below, or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Retro Sign Update

Published March 24th, 2014 by | No Comments

Did you catch our newest addition to the neighborhood? The Retro-sign, which sits atop 1317 Euclid, was installed last week and pays tribute to the original PlayhouseSquare signage. The enormous creation is a whopping 48-feet tall, with each letter standing at 9-feet. In terms of lighting, the sign will illuminate the area with 900 light bulbs and the Hanna Building got a new light treatment, too!

If you haven’t gotten the chance to see it all in person, here are some behind-the-scenes photos to tide you over!


Retro Sign

Retro Sign

Retro Sign Installation

Retro Sign

Retro Sign

Architectural Lighting - Hanna

 What part of Dazzle The District are you most excited for?


10 Things Children Gain from Theater

Published March 19th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater is a thrilling, creative, mind-opening experience for all of us, but what exactly can theater contribute to the lives of our children? In honor of “World Theatre for Children and Young People Day”, here are 10 solid reasons to involve your child in theater:

 1. Imagination

Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Theater fosters your child’s imagination by transporting them to another space and time. They begin to realize anything they can imagine can come to life through art.

 2. Laughter

Humor makes everything better. Theater brings learning to life by making it engaging and exciting!

 3. Curiosity

Children are naturally curious. Theater causes children to question even more, which helps them form their own decisions and opinions.

 4. Improved Academic Performance

There are many studies demonstrating a significant link between arts education and educational success. Test scores are just one aspect:

  • Students involved in drama performance coursework or experience outscored non-arts students on the 2005 SAT by an average of 65 points in the verbal component and 34 points in the math component
  • Students involved in drama performance scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal component and 35.5 points higher in the math component of the SAT

 SAT Scores(The College Entrance Examination Board)

 5. Emotional Intelligence / Empathy

Empathy needs to be practiced, especially in today’s world. By sympathizing with characters in theater performances, children can begin to understand what it means to empathize. They also gain a better understanding of non-verbal communication and learn how to interact effectively with others.

 6. Exposure to Different Cultures and Perspectives

Theater allows children to put themselves in the shoes of another person, perhaps with a different viewpoint than their own. This fosters understanding and acceptance, while expanding their worldview.

 7. Confidence

Performing in front of an audience for the first time is nerve-wracking to say the least, but eventually, overcoming this fear makes children feel an overwhelming sense of pride. They realize they can accomplish anything with practice. This confidence is transferred to all aspects of their lives, including academics.

 8. Creative Outlet for Expression

One of the biggest benefits of the arts is that they provide an outlet for expression and are a productive use of energy. The creativity developed through theater will set children apart and allow them to excel in their future careers.

 9. Problem Solving Skills

Theater helps children learn without them even realizing it! While watching a production, children witness a conflict and solution process. While working on a production, they will be faced with script, actor, or staging problems that require a quick, creative solution. These experiences help children form critical problem-solving skills.

 10. Friends / Team-building

Theater isn’t mean to be experienced alone. By participating in theater, children can bond with current friends while making new ones. They learn about teamwork and compromising with others, both essential to their careers and to their lives.

Looking for ways to bring theater into your child’s life? Make sure to stop by PlayhouseSquare’s International Children’s Festival from May 6 – 14!

Children's Fest

About Us

A not-for-profit performing arts center that presents and produces a wide variety of performing arts, advances arts education and creates a destination that is a superior location for entertainment business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.


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