10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 3: A Tony Award-Winning Designer

David Gallo is one of the hippest guys around, and he’s one of the most in-demand designers in town, thanks to his terrific work on a ton of shows, from Drowsy Chaperone (Tony, Tony, Tony) to Xanadu to Memphis to Thoroughly Modern Millie (where I first worked with him).

In addition to his theatrical work in town, David does a lot of stuff all over the country and all over the world, proving that great theater doesn’t have anything to do with a street address . . . it’s about the people involved.

Enjoy these 10 Questions with David Gallo!

 

1. What is your title?

Designer

2. What show/shows are you currently working on?

Right now I am in Vienna doing a new company of the show Ich war noch niemals in New York.  It is a large-scale musical based on the work of the renowned pop star Udo Jurgens.  The show originally opened to acclaim in Hamburg and the producers have decided to extend that success to the rest of the continent.

I am also thrilled to be working on some new plays such as Stickfly by the remarkable young playwright Lydia Diamond.  We produced it at the Arena Stage in DC and the next venue will be at the Huntington Theater in Boston.  It was a great return to work with my old friend Kenny Leon as director.

Added to that I recently spent time with my favorite regional theater: the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where I was thrilled to be a part of the theatrical debut of the bestselling author Walter Mosley.  His play The Fall of Heaven is something special and the work of director Marion McClinton is worth noting as well.

3. In one sentence, describe your job.

Claw your way into the mind of the playwright and director and give them what they desire (whether they like it or not).

4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?

Be available to all sources.  Know inspiration is everywhere  What works…works.

5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?

Years of working on Theatre Row.  The theaters on West 42nd Street were my finishing school.  I was pleased to spend time working for many of the companies that produced there.

6. What was your first job in theater?

I made masks for a production of Pippin.  That was a great start.

7. Why do you think theater is important?

It just is…and it will always be.

Theater is the most basic form of human interaction.  We desire to see ourselves.  On stage and in the living moment.

8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?

Keeping things real.  Lots of media have been elbowing itself into the basic nature of true design but who can argue that what is seen before the audience is what really matters.

9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I wish we had more time.

10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?

Read, watch, learn, experience.  Ask others that have gone before you.  The future is yours.  Don’t concern yourself with pointless issues.
For more on David, including a look at some of his stuff, visit his website at www.DavidGallo.com.

Desperately seeking: Devoted and Disgruntled in New York

I’d bet my original Carrie playbill that if you’re reading this blog, then there is something about the theater industry that frustrates the f*** out of you.

I’d also bet that if you’re reading this blog, you’re interested in voicing your opinion, getting your hands dirty, and doing something about it.

This weekend, you have your chance.  And you won’t be alone.

On Saturday and Sunday, The Under The Radar Festival is sponsoring the first ever D&D in the U.S.

No, D&D isn’t an 80s role playing game (and yes, I was a Dungeon Master).  It stands for ‘Devoted and Disgruntled’ and it’s a town hall-ish type event where you can express your frustration, and then you can come up with a way to do something about it.  And you’ll have other D&Ders to help, because I’d bet if something is frustrating you, it’s frustrating someone else, too.

It’s like a theatrical activist dating service.  And I think it sounds pretty awesome.

It’s been done in London for five years to great success and thankfully, it’s coming here.

While I’m sure it will be heavy on non-profits and up-and-coming theater companies, it doesn’t have to be.  The founder of the event is Phelim McDermott, a director and designer who dances in both the non-profit and profit halls.  In fact, he’s got a teensy-tiny show coming up this Spring known as The Addams Family.

For more information on the event, click here.

I’ll see you there.

No 20-sided die required.

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