Special Effect on stage that had the most impact to you in the storytelling...

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CapnHook
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We were discussing spectacles today in an acting class of mine and the subject got brought up of how back in the day - the simplest special effect had just as much impact on the storytelling of a show as today's SPECTACULAR special effects.

Thinking back in all the shows you've seen live - which special effect had the most impact?
"The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet."
--Aristotle
Yankeefan007
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I'm gonna say the killer rabbit in Spamalot had a significant impact on the show. It bit somebody's head off for heaven's sake.
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For me, I will always say Peter Pan flying through the window since it was the first show I saw live.....
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No contest-PILLOWMAN. You can't even select only one special effect-The set, the lighting, the use of the top of the set as second sets. I'll pick that one for making the most impact on me. Those upper tier sets were used with such surreal elements-intense color, unreal size proportions between actors and set, the direction, etc.

I'll never forget the stunning experience of seeing this play.
<-----I'M TOTES ROLLING MY EYES
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It has been a while, but I remember the staging and lighting of Les Miserables really impressing me. I especially recall the use of lighting to make you feel as though you were in the sewers, and also the rotating stage giving the illusion of infinite area.
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Also have to mention that I was also totally impressed with the set design in Titanic, depicting action on multiple decks of the ship, and in the tragic sinking.
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Once again, Capn, you come up with the most interesting, albeit obvious threads. (I actually meant that as a compliment) You really should consider becoming a producer... re: Special Effect on stage that had the most impact to you in the storytelling...

For me, the hat in LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, is one of the most magical moments...as we've seen on the tape it's simplicity was deceiving. Big burly guy on a riser...same way it would have been done 500 years ago. Still magic.

Another: In Dracula, the play, with Frank Langella. Not only the black and white set and the one red glass of wine on the stage, but his entrances (through off-set walls) were so simple and yet shocking.
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No one better say Elphaba defying gravity!

Off the top of my head, relating to the topic of the thread, would be the simplicity of Mufasa's face appearing during Endless Night.
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when mufasa's face appears! That made me cry...it was beautiful
Now all I see are cute boys with short haircuts in a maze of their own...
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The original production and revivals of GYPSY had illuminated signs at each side of the stage indicating which city Rose's traveling vaudeville act was playing. After one of their routines June and her Newsboys start a traveling step. As the music builds and gets faster, the name of the city on the illuminated sign keeps changing. Meanwhile, stobe lights on the performers begin to flicker faster and faster as the young performers, dancing in place, are gradually replaced by older performers in a flickering dissolve. Time has passed. The act is the same but the cast is now older.

The famous Jo Mielziner, who worked in the theatre from the 1920's to the 1970's and who designed over 300 productions, did the sets and lighting for the original production of GYPSY, which were largely copied for subsequent productions. I got chills everytime I saw this scene. It was magical. And I'm sure that director-choreographer Jerome Robbins worked with Mielziner on this staging.

"Madam Rose...and her daughter...Gypsy!"
Updated On: 10/21/06 at 06:07 AM
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"Lord of the Rings" has so many effects that the stage is really an actor. The stage turns into mountains and during fight scenes actually seems to dance with the music. With all the tree creatures, the enormous spider, at times it felt like a closing ceremony at the olympics.

I have never seen staging that was even close to visual impact of LOTR.
Updated On: 10/19/06 at 09:32 AM
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There are several "special effects" that have have an impact on me. Since I was first hooked on shows in the early 1990's, two of the first spectacles to awe were the chandelier in Phantom of the Opera and the helicopter in Miss Saigon.

On my first real trip to NYC in 1994 I saw Sunset Boulevard and was amazed by the staircase and how that massive set was raised and the apartment set moved in under it at the end of Act One.

Since then I guess the most amazing effect was at the end of Act One of Titanic when they had actors on 3 levels of the ship, the bridge, and the crow's nest all at the same time singing "Autumn/No Moon."
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"No one better say Elphaba defying gravity!"

Why not? Because you assume whoever writes it would write something like oMg ElPhIe DeFyInG gRaViTy wAs ThE mOsT aWeSoMe ThInG EvEr!

Sometimes the Wicked bashing frustrates me to no end.

Honestly, that is what I was thinking. Not because it was omg awesome...but when you connect the action with the words she's singing...

You know, 2 years ago I went through a really, really difficult time where I had major anxiety about doing certain things. You know what I did to give myself the strength to do them? I sang Defying Gravity to myself. It's a powerful song and message, and the effect really pushes forward what she's saying. So excuse me for finding something meaningful in a show that may not be the most complex, intelligent show ever.
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Thank you, wickedrentq! re: Special Effect on stage that had the most impact to you in the storytelling... *claps* You aren't the only one who finds that scene the scene that had the most impact on them re: Special Effect on stage that had the most impact to you in the storytelling...

I am 32 years old and I adore the show. I have a 4 year college degree. I am SICK TO DEATH of being made to feel stupid and ashamed because I love WICKED.

ONE DAY MORE in LES MIZ fits this for me, too.
"TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD"- LES MISERABLES--- "THERE'S A SPECIAL KIND OF PEOPLE KNOWN AS SHOW PEOPLE... WE'RE BORN EVERY NIGHT AT HALF HOUR CALL!"--- CURTAINS
Updated On: 10/19/06 at 10:10 AM
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I'd say the strobe-light scene changes in the "fall of Saigon flashback" scene in Miss Saigon. Really got across cinematically the chaos, etc. Was the most effective use of movie-like transitions in a stage show. (And that's not always a good thing, but it worked here...)
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I loved the Carousel in the revival of "Carousel".

The "hat" moment in Piazza gave me chills each and every time I saw that show.
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What always comes immediately to mind when I think of impressive special effects is the horses galloping through the snow in SHOGUN.

It's sad that not many people got to see that.
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For me it was Cats. I know a lot of people don't like the show, but it was the first show I saw and I was blown away. It's what started my broadway obsession.

I agree w/ Les Mis and the rotating stage.

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I'm gonna have to go with either the Defying Gravity effect (It was the first show I saw on Broadway, it's special to me) OR a regional production of Wizard of Oz, when at the end of Act 1 as Glinda sang "Your journey's end is now in sight" she pointed her wand at the backdrop and the "clouds" parted and Emerald City rose out of them...it was just really cool.
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I always choke up when the barricade comes out at the top of act 2 of Les Miz. These two massive set pieces just bend over backwards and interlock...breathtaking.
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Les Miz rotating stage#20
Posted: 10/19/06 at 12:04pm
Imagine if the rotating stage could sink 10' below the stage and rise 20' above it. With 4 concentric circles that rotated independently, and those circles were broken into 30 pieces that could rise independently to become a vulcano, a cliff, an altar, a path clinging to a mountain. That's what you have in LOTR.
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Les Miz rotating stage#21
Posted: 10/19/06 at 2:06pm
"I am 32 years old and I adore the show. I have a 4 year college degree. I am SICK TO DEATH of being made to feel stupid and ashamed because I love WICKED."


Thank you so much for that, EponineAmneris.


I, too, am a major fan of WICKED. But I am not a babbling 12-year-old girl who knows nothing else of the theatre world. I am a mature, educated person who has knowledge of and a passion for theatre and the history of Broadway.

When I feel like I sometimes have to hide the fact that I love WICKED, it feels awful. What you said completely encompasses everything I feel about the situation. I am sick of feeling ashamed and being made to feel like an idiot because I am fond of a show.

Yes, a great number of WICKED fans are annoying. You're going to get that with any show that brings in a new generation of audiences. But they should NOT be representative of the entire community that finds it to be a wonderful and entertaining show.

I am sick of the fact that because these fans exist, the ENTIRE show is condemned.

.....and now I shall end my rant.


And to stay on topic...

Sometimes just the presence or absence of a sound effect or music does it for me. In TICK, TICK...BOOM!, there is a sound effect for thunder and rain for a particular scene (I don't want to give any spoilers)....and even though it's a pretty obvious sound effect, it adds major depth and a very, very heavy feeling to the scene that made it incredibly impactful for me.
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Les Miz rotating stage#22
Posted: 10/19/06 at 3:24pm
Titanic, mainly for the sinking boat.
Beauty and the Beast, for the fact that the entire set moves back and forth. Then the Beast's balcony moves around on the stage.
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Les Miz rotating stage#23
Posted: 10/19/06 at 3:53pm
Now it's almost passe, but Aaronson's sliding birch tree panels in NIGHT MUSIC, especially during the "Weekend in the Country" number, where people just appeared and disappeared almost like magic.
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Les Miz rotating stage#24
Posted: 10/19/06 at 4:00pm
For me it was Javert's suicide in Les Miz. He jumps off the bridge, they fly the set piece out, light is used to suspend him in midair until he falls onto the turntable which washes his body away.
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