Nick Nealon has a business card and an email with the name Nicky Lightz attached. He is a godsend to the Capital Region theater community, providing lights, expertise, attendance, support, and manpower. He’s a retired school teacher who spent over 30 years at Bethlehem Central Schools. He has supplied his services to companies such as Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York, Callaloo Theatre Company, Confetti Stage, Creative License, Going Dark Productions, Lights Up Productions, Troy Civic Theatre and every other group that has passed through Albany Barn. He has offered lights and support to benefits and fundraisers, done architectural lighting and one-off events at the Lark Hall, Opalka Gallery, Troy Music Hall, Monument Square, and others.
His work and equipment are absolutely essential to the continued growth and health of the Capital Region theater scene as he brings light where there was once none. Because there are limited desirable spaces to be rented for theater, with the help of Nick and his LED lights, anywhere can be turned into a theatrical space—Albany Masonic Lodge, the University Club, even the Troy Atrium. He can go into any space with these tools—which are more versatile and efficient than traditional stage lighting—and run it off of one extension cord. If you would like to join him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was thrilled to sit down for coffee and find out how we were so fortunate to have this technical master on our side.
So, what’s your background? Where did you go to school?
Went to Albany High, got turned onto theater by John Velie, god among men. He has influenced my attitude towards theater to this day. We were doing Beckett in high school. He turned me on to all this avant-garde theater. We did a lot of Shakespeare. We always had a modern spin on it. We did a “Midsummer” called “New Moon” and brought live video cameras into the government scenes.
I played the god Shiva in Ann Jellicoe’s “The Sport of My Mad Mother” and we did it in a classroom. We had this, “Let’s tour with the gods whole thing.” I would deliver lines and play drums…it was kind of a blur but people were raving to me. I didn’t really feel I had gotten to where I wanted; I had gotten this far up the mountain but people said great things about it and I guess that had an effect on me.
How did you get involved with Confetti and Albany Barn?
First time I got involved with Confetti, a former Bethlehem student, Katelyn Ouellette DiPaolo was working on their Ionesco Fest and said, “You should come and see this.” So, I went and they had like this one tree of lights stuck in the back and I said, “You know, I think we can do better than this.” Next thing I know…
You’ve since provided and designed lights for dozens of productions in numerous different configurations—in the round, alley, proscenium, on the fourth floor of Albany Masonic Lodge for Confetti.
Haul it in, lug it up, set it up, light it up and break it down.
With the Albany Barn, I got involved with them before the Barn was even open, with their fundraisers at the Lakehouse in Washington Park. When they finally opened up, they had a stage but no lighting equipment so I brought all the equipment. All the equipment that’s there is actually mine—lights, dimmers, the curtains.
How did you come to buy curtains for Albany Barn?
There weren’t any there. I have an Ebay addiction. I mean, now these things are horribly overpriced, like buying a new car or something. I was able to find, for a couple of months, somebody was updating or revamping. I kept buying them bit by bit, piece by piece. The shipping was killing me but the price for the drapes was pretty good. So, I got a collection of them.
What are your hopes for the future of Capital Region theater?
My hopes are to have a little informal network of people who like to do lighting and maybe like to work on shows or help me or I could help them—people who want to try to do something but don’t quite know how to do something or don’t have the equipment to do something. The other thing is, I have very little desire to do Neil Simon. I like avant-garde, I like off-the-wall. I want to help people do stuff that’s not being done already by everyone else. I want to do stuff outside the normal dinner theater because there’s no support for that.
Patrick White is a Capital Region actor, director, and teacher who directed “Peter And The Starcatcher” at Siena College March 14-23. email@example.com
Capital Region Premieres
“Calvin Berger” Music, Lyrics and Book by Barry Wyner
Not So Common Players at Clifton Park/Halfmoon Public Library | April 5-14
This unique theater company—generously supported by the town of Clifton Park and offering free performances—presents this retelling of the classic “Cyrano” reset in high school.
“Shakespeare in Love” by Lee Hall
Capital Repertory Theatre | April 5-May 12
The stage adaptation of the Tom Stoppard penned Oscar-Winning Best Film tells the story of a blocked young Will Shakespeare under great financial pressure to come up with a hit and only has “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter” to show for it. That is until he meets a mysterious young actor. Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill and theREP will bid adieu to its North Pearl Street home with a cast of 21 including at least 15 locals in the cast.
“Ink” by James Graham
Manhattan Theatre Club at Samuel Friedman Theatre | April 2-June 9
It’s 1969 London and a brash, young Australian upstart named Rupert Murdoch has just bought The Sun newspaper and hired rogue editor Larry Lamb to take on all comers. They build a team of underdog reporters with questionable practices and proceed to set London ablaze. Time Out called the British production directed by Rupert Goold “an incredibly brilliant stunner.”
“Passage” by Christopher Chen
Soho Rep | April 23-May 26
A fantasia on colonialism by this Obie Award winner at this indispensable theatre, the past home to “An Octoroon,” “Is God Is” and “Fairview.”