Toby Clark: Creating mood and atmosphere

Arts profile

Posted: Thursday, June 01, 2000

Stage design: Toby Clark is a stage and lighting designer, and has worked with many arts groups in Juneau during the past eight years. He's designed and built sets for dozens of productions by Perseverance Theatre, Juneau Douglas Little Theater, Juneau Lyric Opera, Theatre in the Rough and every high school production since 1997.

Most recently, he created the stage designs and lighting for last week's Juneau Jazz & Classics Concerts.

Armed with a suitcase full of banners with the Jazz & Classics logo -- a big musical note -- Clark transformed Chapel by the Lake into a classical concert hall and the Penthouse into a jazz club.

``It's about creating mood and atmosphere, using whatever you can find that works and blending it with light,'' he said.

Hanging horns: Clark hung more than a dozen saxophones, horns and other instruments over the stage at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium for a big band concert Friday night.

``I don't think I've ever been as appreciated with anything I've done as with the Jazz & Classics audience -- which is funny, because it's a musical event, and you don't expect that. You expect it more at a play or a show where it's more about the setting,'' he said.

From singer to electrician: Clark, 32, grew up in Princeton, N.J. As a boy he was an avid singer and traveled to Europe twice for performances, once on a tour with his church choir and again with his high school choir.

He became involved with technical theater in high school and by the time he graduated he was doing free-lance work for area theaters. He earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts in technical theater and design from Denison University in Grandville, Ohio, and worked as a master carpenter in the theater shop throughout college.

A job as a master electrician at Perseverance Theatre brought him to Juneau in 1992. He began acting as well as singing and working on stage design. Molly Smith, then the theater's artistic director, called him the ``Yes Man.''

``I was a yes man because I said yes to everything,'' he said. ``I was a bachelor then and I had lots of time.''

That's changed. He's now married to actress and theater director Anita Maynard-Losh, and they have three kids.

Balancing act: In 1997 he began working as the auditorium manager at JDHS, which requires balancing the community's use and the school's use of the facility. He also teaches a stage crew class and a technical theater and design class.

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