Lighting designer Bradley King '02 returned to Gilman to present the 2017 George E. P. Mountcastle Memorial Lecture on March 27. King, who recently made his Broadway debut as lighting designer for the smash hit Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812, was joined by the show's author, composer, lyricist, orchestrator and original star, Dave Malloy.
The New York Times called The Great Comet "the most innovative and the best new musical to open on Broadway since 'Hamilton."'
The event broke with the normal lecture format. King and Malloy sat onstage with Upper School English teacher John Rowell, who posed questions to each guest about their careers, training and the show's development from concept to Broadway show. Both men were novices to Broadway, and still seem amazed at having achieved the level of success that they are now enjoying with The Great Comet.
Bradley King noted that he got his start in theatre on the very stage on which he was being interviewed. He was focused on theater from that time forward, earning an MFA in design from New York University as well as a BFA from NYU in theatre directing. He talked about his metamorphosis from actor to director to lighting design.
King has worked in theater, opera, dance, and corporate media throughout the U.S. and U.K. He received nominations for both the Henry Hewes Design Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for his work on Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.
Dave Malloy got his start as a musician, jumping from pop to jazz to classical to hip hop. At Ohio University he double majored in music and English. He talked about his transition from performing in bands to composing for theater, explaining that he "said yes to everything" that came his way.
In addition to his work on The Great Comet, Malloy has written the music for ten other musicals which have been performed on Off and Off-Off Broadway as well as across the country. Recognition for his projects have included OBIE Special Citation Award, Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, ASCAP New Horizons Award. He has been a guest professor at Princeton and Vassar Universities.
Malloy and King both talked about the importance of the friendships they have made during their careers and how the web of those relationships continue to take them from project to project. One of King's projects was a collaboration with his classmate Ajay Kurian '02 on an installation of conceptual artwork.
In a coincidence of scheduling, Kurian addressed the Upper School in an assembly the day following the Mountcastle Lecture.
About the Mountcastle Lecture: Established by his family and friends in 1970, the Mountcastle Lectureship serves as a memorial to George E.P. Mountcastle '68, an aspiring writer who passed away in 1969 while a sophomore at Harvard University. The annual event brings to Gilman each year a distinguished writer to give a formal address and to spend a day in informal conversations with students and faculty. Here is a list of previous Mountcastle lectures.