Broadway Technology Advances

Topics: Light, Broadway theatre, Technology Pages: 7 (2280 words) Published: August 11, 2013
Thesis: Advances in technology make it possible for a Broadway show to have better sound qualities, and special effects, making any show extraordinary and more realistic.

Outline

I. Technological Advances
A. Sound
B. Microphones

II. Stage
A. Lights
B. Special Effects
C. Props
D. Sets

III. Costumes/ Makeup
A. Makeup
B. Costumes

Holyfield 2

Advances in technology make it possible for a Broadway show to have better sound qualities, and special effects, making any show extraordinary, and more realistic. As time passes by, technology advances forward, it is important to understand its benefits and uses in traditionally non-technical applications. “Musical theater has been a particular and significant beneficiary of new technologies” (Bough 203). Many Broadway shows use technology in different ways to put on an excellent show. Some technology that is needed to make a show a success, are microphones, lights, set designs, and finally special effects. Microphones are used to project the voice of an actor or actress. Lights are used to illuminate the stage to represent a certain time of day. Special effects are used to top off a show and to make it a more realistic experience for the audience. “Microphones are a major part of a production in a live performance on the stage” (Flinn 2). Technology has made it possible for body mics that are invisible to an audience to be made into miniature mics to be used as "hair mics" or "ear mics" which are hidden in the hair or protrude from the ear along the face. Also, microphones can be hidden on set to pick up the ambiance (a particular environment or surrounding influence) on stage or a group of people on stage who would be difficult to mic individually. “Microphones on stage allow actors to speak more naturally, emulating a more realistic performance style that audiences are used to from movies and television. Audiences also expect entertainment to be louder generally, after years of surround-sound in movie theaters” (Gamerman, 2).

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The most important part of any Broadway show is the stage lighting, which is a very important part of theatrical productions. Different types of lighting work in specific ways to create the correct mood. If the wrong type of lighting is used, and the placement is not correct, it can potentially ruin the stage ambiance. “The elements of basic lighting are much the same as they were generations ago, but greater control of the lighting effects has been made possible through technological advancements”( Kelley 1). Lekos, also referred to as ellipsoidal spotlights, produce a concentrated, defined light beam that can be focused on a particular area to distances up to seventy five feet. They have a focusing lens and are good to use in side and overhead lighting besides a focusing lens, they also have shutters that allow for partial obstruction of the light beams produced. “This can create the effect of a partially lit stage. Intensity of the beam can be controlled to give varying degrees of light” (Kelley 1). “Fresnel lights are used to produce soft luminescent effects” (Kelley 1). Fresnels contain lenses that evenly spread light with virtually no shadows. Because of the uniform coverage of the light, it eliminates hot spots. “Scoop lights are also used for theater, backdrop lighting and as down lights” (Kelley 1). They are not usually used during performances because of the difficulty in controlling the light beams. They are used more commonly as floodlights, illuminating a large area of the stage. “Parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) lights are capable of sending an impressive amount of light to the stage area” (Kelley 1).

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“Cyc lights are also called strip lights or cyclorama lights, are typically made up of rows of...

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Gamerman, Ellen. "Broadway Turns Up The Volume: As Mics and Backing Tracks Multiply, The Theater World Is Divided.” wsj.com. N.p. 23 Oct 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Judkis, Maura. "Marry Poppins Secrets Revealed." tbd.com. N.p. 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Kelley, Leigh. "Types of Lighting Used in Theater." ehow.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Levin, Ilan. "Audio Technology in Musical Theater." wpi.edu. Project Report of Worcester Institute. N.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.
Nassreen, Shirami. "About Stage Props." ehow.com. N.p. n.d Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Patten, Lynn. "How Has Technology Affected Theatre Costume and Makeup." ehow.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Propst, Andy. "Set Designers Bring on the Technology." theatremania.com. N.p. 21 Aug 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Tanaka, Jennifer. "Theatrics Out Of Thin Air." American Theatre 16.7 (Sept.1999): 24-27. Ebscohost.com. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.
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