Before the curtain opens for any theatre production, many people are behind the scenes making sure the operation can run smoothly from start to finish.
Lee Brasuell is the technical director and production manager for the Oklahoma State University Department of Theatre. He oversees the scheduling and the budget, but also does the conceptual drawings of how to build items for the shows the theatre department puts on each year. Then, he makes those drawings a reality.
“I relate my work to architecture,” Brasuell said. “You have an architect who designs what the building is going to look like and how people interact with it. As the technical director, I’m more of the engineer. I take those drawings and figure out how to make it happen on stage.”
Brasuell’s main area of research is circus and aerial rigging. He designs pieces that help performers fly through the air during parts of a performance. Before coming to OSU, he worked with the Tony award winning Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago doing aerial work. After working on many successful productions, Brasuell brought his talents back to Oklahoma and began working for OSU and in part, Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City.
His most recent work with the Lyric Theatre was the indoor world premiere for Walt Disney’s new theatrical show, “When You Wish” at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.
“It was a musical revue,” Brasuell said. “It was bits and pieces from many different productions. You had Woody from Toy Story, Mary Poppins and tons of other different pieces. Some of the flying portions were of course, Mary Poppins, Tarzan and Jane and The Little Mermaid, ‘Under the Sea’ portion of the show.”
Brasuell was the coordinator between the anti-gravity aerial rigging group, Lyric Theatre and the Oklahoma City Civic Center. He was brought on to make sure each of the aerial and acrobatic pieces were installed correctly and safely. This also involved him placing backup systems behind the scenes in case any of the original systems were to fail. He has previously worked with Lyric Theatre on other productions including the Wizard of Oz, where he was head of flying effects for the show. Before that production, he had previous involvement with Lyric Theatre as a master carpenter before his time in Chicago.
Brasuell is an integral part of the OSU theatre department as he supervises all of the technical aspects that go into a show including the lighting, sound and scenic effects. His favorite part though is the circus and aerial rigging aspect of the theatre.
“For me, it’s creating the apparatus that the performer interacts with and creating that spectacle,” Brausell said. “I love the design and creation of the apparatus to tell the story.”
Though the performers are the on-stage display, it’s the people, like Brasuell, who sit behind the scenes who make it possible for the show to be a success.