“This is a love letter to Tracie Bennett,” said Chris Akerlind earlier this week. Chris was referring to the review written by Ben Brantley, theater reviewer for the New York Times. Brantley’s review was of a just opened Broadway play in which English actress Tracie Bennett plays to perfection Judy Garland in a new play aptly named “End of the Rainbow.” The rave review appeared in the New York Times Arts Section on Tuesday, April 3rd.
“This show makes people leap to their feet to give her a standing ovation,” said Chris. “It goes from euphoric moments to a very sad moment. It’s real drama and that’s why it works.” Chris should know. As the show’s lighting designer, he has seen it 13 times. First, in its out-of-town tryouts in Minneapolis earlier this year and then more recently in New York City as this just over 2 hour show was preparing to open. It’s so short he says because that’s what audiences are expecting these days – shorter plays because there are so many other modes of communication available to audiences. “It’s exciting to be connected to such a success,” he said.
No doubt the feeling is mutual. Chris, 49, brings to shows years of expertise that have won him one Tony award and nominations for three others. He attended Yale Drama School where he pursued a career in lighting design.
Chris was home on the Hill for some much needed down-time. His landmark home is a mango colored house that dates back to the 1840s. He bought it in 1996, gutted it and it has been a work in progress since then. And it appears to really be in the final stages of restoration; something he said last year as well! Someday he will finish it and be able to spend more time on the Hill – something for everyone to look forward to.
As this is written, Chris is off to Ashland, Oregon to work on a new play for the Oregon Shakespearean Festival – Macbeth/Medea/Cinderella – what the playwright calls a “mash-up.” Theater goers can only hope that someday we will have the thrill of seeing “End of the Rainbow” with lighting design by one, delightful Chris Akerlind.
For much more background information, on Chris Akerlind, please see dated June 19, 2011, Post # 811 herein.