Former actress enjoys shining the spotlight on others for Barclay College's April 12, 13 and 14 musical production, Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast.'
Lights, camera, action, seems like a pretty simple phrase, but there is a lot of preparation that goes into those three simple words. For Barclay College’s upcoming production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the lighting portion of the process is coming together thanks to Marki Sulzbach. Sulzbach currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her connection to BC, other than the fact that she was once a student, is that her sister, Randi Shetley, is the director of the musical.
Sulzbach was a student at Barclay College from 1998 to 2000 before leaving to pursue a career in the arts. She was able to finish her degree through BC’s online program in 2014 and will graduate in a few short weeks with her masters degree from Wake Forest University. Since leaving Barclay, Sulzbach has worked as a lighting designer in Pennsylvania, Nashville, Orlando, Tennessee, and many other places across the U.S.
Originally, Sulzbach was front and center and enjoyed being on stage as an actress from junior high to high school, and even some in college. After heading to Branson, Mo. in 2000, Sulzbach struggled to find a part because of timing. It was the middle of the season, and parts were filled. This was a blessing in disguise as she was able to take a job as a spotlight director because she just wanted to get her foot in the door. She fell in love with the technical side of musical theater and drama and hasn’t had much desire for anything else since then.
Sulzbach faced a lot of challenges during her career, one of them was being a woman. There aren’t a lot of women in the field of theater lighting, so she had to pave her own way, and she has done just that.
“First, there is a budget to consider, electricity specs for the building, then lighting fixture selection based on script (or music, if you are doing a live music show), gel color selection, cable costs, and several meetings with the rigger, producer, director, and electricians. I’m sure I’m missing something! But you get the idea,” she said. “Once all of that is done, then it takes hours of positioning the lights in the right places with the correct gel filters and then sitting down at the lighting console and programming in the lighting cues for the show. It’s basically like computer programming, the light board tells the lights when to come on for which scenes. The lighting designer really gets to let their artistry come out when they are behind the light board.”
There are two main reasons Sulzbach feels like she has found her niche in lighting design. The first is her introverted nature. She finds solace in unplugging from the world and spending hours creating the light show in a dark theater all by herself. Secondly, she enjoys doing the legwork behind the scenes. Her love for performing in the spotlight is still there, but she prefers to run the spotlight instead. Being able to have a part in every scene is something she enjoys. One of the most important parts of designing the lighting portion of the production is to make sure it isn’t the focus of the show, but more of a highlight to the talent the performers have to offer.
“The lighting can either make or break a scene, and I love being able to enhance something that is already incredible, like the talent at Barclay,” said Sulzbach.
Sulzbach’s work will be on full display as Barclay College presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at 7 p.m. on April 12; 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 13 and 3 p.m. on April 14.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com.