Creating worlds, shaping experiences, inspiring passion: As a Broadway lighting designer whose credits include On the Town, Bronx Bombers and Barefoot in the Park, Jason Lyons is used to making his audiences see the stage in a whole new light. And now, as this year’s visiting lighting designer and theatre instructor, that’s exactly what he’d like to do for his students, too.
“My hope is that they find a passion in how to integrate who they are and their own artistic voice into how they tell stories and convey mood,” says Lyons. “Spending time with the students here has reinvigorated both my passion for the work I do, as well as my excitement to share it with young artists.”
Lyons’ own passion was brought to light in high school when he interned backstage at a summer stock theater.
“As I watched the show every night and noted how the lighting cues created dynamic and helped set the mood for the audience, I fell in love with that notion of being able to transport and inspire without their necessarily realizing it,” he says, adding that that ability gives lighting designers a lot of power, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. “As lighting designers, we help create the world of the play, with the ability to shift mood, location or time of day. We can add dynamic that helps build excitement or focus that helps pull the onlookers to the edge of their seats. The point of view we bring to the table creates the lens through which the audience sees the play.”
Lyons has brought his point of view to countless audiences both on Broadway and off, earning him a number of awards, including the 2016 Obie for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design.
“I’ve had the joy of making big splashy new musicals; intimate, dark and twisted plays; fresh takes on classic shows – and every one of them has been a challenge and a wonder,” he says. “It’s a constantly shifting, challenging, rewarding, sharing and learning experience. I’m able to be at the top of my field and still learn and grow with every new collaboration.”
And, he says, his new collaboration with the College, which also includes serving as the lighting designer for The Addams Family musical in April at the Robinson Theatre, is no different.
“I feel like, between the city and the College itself, I am constantly surprised by the bits of beauty that I discover in every corner,” says Lyons. “I keep reminding my students to not take their surroundings for granted, as there is so much to take in and be inspired by.”
Indeed, inspiration is everywhere when you find the right light.
Featured image of Jason Lyons by Heather Moran