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Guest Artist: Jeff Peltz

velma kelly on stage

Velma Kelly (senior Stephanie Seward) shines on stage, thanks to lighting by Jeff Peltz.

May 2013

He came. He saw. He razzle dazzled 'em with a lighting design as fit for glittery scenes as it was for gritty ones. And he did it all in one week.

Jeff Peltz is as an associate professor in the theatre department at the University of Central Missouri. During his last nine years working at UCM, Peltz got to know SAU theatre faculty Kris Eitrheim and Cory Johnson through the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

"We had casually chatted about me coming as a guest [designer]," Peltz said. "It looked like this year I could finally fit it in my schedule, and I was excited by the opportunity to come here."

Peltz watched his first rehearsal of Chicago the Wednesday before opening week. For the next seven days, he persevered through hanging, creating and fine-tuning the lighting. With only six nights to prepare for the final design and setting all of the cues, Peltz had a lot to accomplish from one rehearsal to the next. One of the biggest challenges for Peltz was executing his design in such a short period of time.

"Everybody was in the cast, and everybody was involved in other events," Peltz said. "Getting enough hands to help with the labor was tough."

But Peltz's passion for lighting design outweighed the stress that came with the time crunch. He began his time at UCM in charge of every technical aspect for a production except the costumes. More recently, he has been able to focus on lighting designs, putting to good use his M.F.A. in lighting from the Univeristy of Illinois.

"Lighting is all so abstract, I can just have a good time with it," Peltz said. "And I like its intangible, ephemeral quality; it's there for the moment and then it's gone."

Those involved with the production of Chicago were happy to have Peltz's design on their show. And during his week at St. Ambrose, Peltz said he most enjoyed the faculty and students with whom he worked.

"Everyone here has a great attitude, and they are respectful," Peltz said. "And the students are talented on and off stage–they are phenomenal."

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