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Careers in the Live Event Production Industry: Put Some Excitement in Your Work

Opportunities Available For Those Starting Out


Richard Cadena
photo courtesy of swamicandela
One of the crew who stopped by Wilson’s stage manager’s station during the show Wicked in Chicago was the master electrician, Mike Novasel. He came to the production by way of IATSE Local 2. He joined after years of touring as a lighting technician with Pat Travers, Ted Nugent, and many other big concert tours of the time. He started out working for local production companies before he went to work for a lighting manufacturer called Vari-Lite in Dallas. His years of experience and training have allowed him to find work mostly in the Chicago area, and today he works directly for Broadway in Chicago, though he’s still a member of IATSE.

Novasel’s job is to keep all of the lighting gear on the show in good working order. One hour before the doors opened on that Thursday evening, there were two automated lights that weren’t working properly. He and some of the crew climbed a ladder to reach one of the lights on a balcony rail, and determined that it had to be replaced with one several spares they keep for just such a purpose. They made the switch in about 30 minutes and the problem fixture was sent to his work area backstage for repairs. Another light just needed a new lamp, and the same crew had the lamp changed in a matter of about five minutes, and just a few minutes before doors.

Life is a Circus

The job of a master electrician in the theatre is not much different than the one held by Jarred Coelho, lighting tech for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus “Bellobration”. The main difference is that the circus moves from town to town each week. Coelho is one of the people charged with setting up all of the lighting, video, and rigging each week in a marathon 18-hour day, and then he operates the lighting console during the show.

Coelho went to college at California State University in Fresno majoring in kinesiology with a minor in theatre before taking a break. His experience in his high school drama program led him to work at a regional theatre where he met someone who helped mentor him. His mentor also got him some work at the local IATSE and then at a local production company as a shop hand, tech, programmer, and electrician. He plans to go back to college to finish his degree and he’s in the process of looking for a good school that can give him the training and experience to take his career to the next level.

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