Viva Las Vegas! (Or, Real Theater People Look Up)

I've spent the past two days in Las Vegas at the Advisor Insight Conference. Earlier this year, I received a grant from Voya Financial for $12,000 as part of the Unsung Heroes Awards. Thanks to their generosity, our theater department was able to purchase all kinds of filmmaking equipment like HD cameras, a Macbook Pro editing studio, a boom mic, and a green screen (which was the clear winner with our students who apparently watch the "Making Of" featurettes on their Marvel DVDs). We're using the equipment to create two original short films, which will be screened for the community at the end of the school year. As a recipient of the award, I was invited to come to Voya's annual conference and share details about our project with their financial advisors.

Since our grant was used for a cross-grade film project, I figured that a short film was only appropriate for our presentation. So I entrusted Trayvon (one of my 8th grade students) with gathering action-packed B-roll footage, and we created the following sizzle reel of our classroom:

With my backpack stuffed to the brim, I ventured westward. The conference was being held at Caesar's Palace, which put me right in the middle of the action on the Strip. As someone who doesn't particularly enjoy gambling, you might not think that I'd get much out of Las Vegas. On the contrary, I found the city to be a theater-maker's wonderland -- as long as you remember that real theater people always look up.

(Part of the light grid in the lobby of the Bellagio)

And sometimes down.

(Koi pond lit by surprisingly affordable LED lights)

Las Vegas reminded me a lot of another favorite spot of mine -- Disneyworld (and Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and Euro Disney). It's not because I have any particular yen for the Disney Corporation. It's because their Imagineers have an extraordinary attention to detail that can keep me fascinated for hours. I can spend an entire day at Disneyworld and never step onto a single ride; I just stare at the plumbing fixtures.

For instance, I noticed these windows in the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. All of the windows are lit using different colors of gel. (I saw the same technique used in the Paris Hotel and Casino. The windows were all lit with different shades of yellow/white light, so that it looked like the lightbulbs were purchased at different stores by different families.) Check out all of the little details that the set designers put into this pint-size replica of NYC. There's a bicycle perched out on the fire escape, and an assortment of blinds and shades. Some of the windows are jarred open by air conditioning units. And then there's the next level of set dressing excellence . . .

Look at the sticker in the window of this NYC replica apartment! It's an ADT Security sticker! And you can't see in the photo, but there are also bars on the adjacent window. You almost feel like you're actually in NYC until you see something like this . . .

Sorry, Las Vegas. The 9 train hasn't been operational for about a decade.

However, you more than made up for your MTA fail with the happiest sight that this displaced Brooklynite could have hoped to see . . .

(Yes, please.)

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