Everything is Illuminated: Doings Lights & Sounds for a Musical

Nastia in an Elizabethan costume

While I have done almost everything that there is to do in theater from acting to directing to stage crew to makeup, lights and sounds was a completely new territory. As any explorer, I ventured into it with caution and trepidation.

My own approach to stage lights has always been simple: give me enough light to see the actors’ faces. This can fly in a play, but a musical requires a bit more pizzazz. Musicals exist in a strange reality where people spontaneously burst into song about things that they could probably just talk about and everyone is unfazed when characters suddenly do choreographed dance  numbers  for no apparent reason. In a reality like this mood-lighting is paramount.

Jarkko Tuominen, lights designer from GLORIA, has been helping us create just the right lighting, and with his help and expertise we’ll hope to create an unforgettable musical extravaganza. I do not want to give anything away, but it really puts the ‘mood’ into ‘mood-lighting’. As a newbie in this area, I have found the experience very educational. Here are just a few things that I have learned:

  • Light and sound control boards are cool. Being behind one is like being on Star Trek.
  • We must all be thankful for programmable lights. One push of a button is all you need to go from tame to sizzling.
  • When writing light and sound cues in a script, remember to have ALL the cues there.
  • Pre-recorded sounds never quite sound like what they are supposed to. Out of context they could be anything.
  • When setting up lights, ALWAYS make sure you have enough time!


These lessons may not sound very insightful, but they are a good starting point for anyone who is doing lights and sounds for the first time. I am particularly grateful to our director Nihan, our Thespians Anonymous team and GLORIA tech for making this ride into the unknown go smoothly.

Nastia Diatlova is a lights and sounds virgin who inexplicably got herself into heading the lights and sounds team. She found the experience only slightly traumatizing and looks forward to using her newly-acquired skills to do lights and sounds for future productions.

Thespians Anonymous proudly present the comedic musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change on 12, 14, 15, 21 and 22 April 2013 at Gloria Kulttuuriarena in Helsinki. For more information see Thespians Anonymous website or the Facebook event of the show.

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