For the past two days, the RiverPark Center stage has seen action that could be termed “behind the scenes.” The lighting technical crew for the band O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) has been in town and working 14-hour days to create the light show that will be used during the band’s tour which kicks off June 6 in Holmdel, NJ.
RiverPark Center’s Director of Development and Marketing Faith Holley said this is what makes RPC unique — it has an established arts community and technical directors and tech crew, along with a workshop behind the stage. Holley said this is something many nearby arts centers do not have.
“And it is cost-effective,” Holley said. “We are lucky to have a technical and assistant technical director.”
The crew arrived on June 3 and began marking the stage where lights would go. Using state-of-the-art equipment that will be used for all of the shows in the 3-month tour, O.A.R. assistant lighting director Zakk Bosserman said that conversations for the feel of the show began several months ago and that the band, who he said is very creative, shared their ideas with Bosserman and lighting director Chris Wrightsman.
Wrightsman has been in the production business for 25 years and has worked for 10 years with O.A.R. In 2013, he was working with another tour that was using the RPC stage to set for its production of “SuperWHY.” In 2019, when O.A.R.’s lighting crew needed a place to set the technical lighting for the tour, he remembered the positive experiences he had when he was in Owensboro.
“It’s less expensive to work here and to bring in the crew,” Wrightsman said of the mostly Nashville-based lighting crew. “For the second time [to work at RPC], the town has gotten a lot cooler.”
Haley Strong has been an assistant technical director at RPC since 2008, and she said that her job is to be there to help the touring company if they need it, especially when loading and unloading the semi trucks.
“This is just the tech lighting package,” Holley said. “They are setting it up and programming it to make sure it looks like what it did on paper.”
Holley said that any time the RPC can be used this way, it brings revenue for the venue. The RPC relies on sponsorships, donations, contractual programming and grants, among other sources.
RPC Executive Director Roxi Witt said that the opportunity to have RPC used this way has led to several productions being offered to the community that would not have been possible if the production’s technical rehearsals were not at RPC.
The national touring Broadway show “Motown” will only book for week-long increments because of the stage requirements for the production, Witt said, but they came to Owensboro to tech the show, which brought 50 to 60 people to the community for lodging and dining for the two weeks.
Witt said this opportunity also brought $60,000 to $70,000 to local stagehand workers who helped with the tech rehearsals.
“It makes an impact on the community, and it can be used as an education tool,” Witt said, citing the Bachelor of Theatre Arts degree that is available through a collaborative effort among Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Community and Technical College and RPC.
Witt credits the employees of RPC with bringing touring companies back to Owensboro, saying that those who come to Owensboro find out how good the venue is, how helpful the tech crew is and how easy they are to work with, the cost-effectiveness of using RPC and how they are “left alone to do their job.”
“You never know what it will lead to,” Witt said. “It’s a small world.”