Spotlight: Lighting Designer Elaine Wong illuminates the Thingamajig stage

Photo courtesy Jeff Laydon
Nick Drivas plays Tony in “West Side Story.” The show is lighting designed by Elaine Wong. In this show, she focused on creating a sense of atmosphere and shadow to focus on the motion happening on stage.

By Tess Wisher
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company, the only professional live theater in Pagosa Springs, has successfully opened all five of its summer shows that will continue to run through the end of August.
All five shows have been illuminated by high-grade LED theatrical lighting instruments by Pagosa’s favorite lighting designer, Elaine Wong.
Wong, Thingamajig Theatre’s lighting designer, hails from Toronto, Canada. In 2009, Wong moved to New Jersey to obtain her masters in lighting design from Rutgers University, a well-regarded theatrical education institution. Many of Thingamajig’s current and former company members also hail from Rutgers University, including Melissa Firlit, Christina Norris, Matt Bittner and Criag Dolezel.
Wong’s fascination with theater began in high school when she stepped on stage as an actor for the first time. When she realized that the process of creating theater involved more than just acting, she jumped at the chance to immerse herself in all aspects of the theatrical craft.
It was during her undergrad education at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, she fell in love with lighting design.
“The lighting is the subconscious guide of the show. It helps illustrate the mood of the show, focus the audience’s attention and reveals relationships between characters,” she said.
Wong began working for Thingamajig Theatre in October 2013 as the lighting designer for “Misterman.” She fell in love with the community within Pagosa Springs and the investment the entire community has in the theater.
“It’s wonderful to come from a place like the East Coast, where there’s a basement theater in every other building and no one cares what you’re doing, to a place like Pagosa where people truly care about the theater and the people in the theater,” she said.
When not at Thingamajig Theatre, Wong is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where she teaches lighting design and works as the master electrician for the theater.
This summer, Wong has enjoyed getting to work on such a wide stylistic variety of shows from classics like “West Side Story” to the cult horrors like “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“Each stylistic variety requires a different mindset,” she said. “Based on the set design, the music and the overall tone of the show, each design requires different stylistic choices within color, speed, focus and mood.”
She has also enjoyed getting to work alongside Laura and Tim Moore once again, because, ultimately, they are what brings so many theater professionals back to Pagosa. The charismatic and amazingly talented couple has created a theater where professionals thrive while putting on an amazing amount of high-quality theater in a mind-bogglingly short amount of time.
Over the past two months, over 50 performers, designers, directors and technicians have been rehearsing and preparing for the various openings of five different shows with Thingamajig Theatre for this “Broadway in the Mountains” summer. “Legally Blonde,” “West Side Story,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Pinkalicious” have taken the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts stage and have been wowing audiences since their openings.
If you’d like to see Wong’s designs in action, come see a show at Thingamajig Theatre housed in the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. To reserve your tickets, call 731-SHOW (7469) or visit pagosacenter.org.

This story was posted on July 20, 2018.