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Wheeler Moon Lights Rock Musical “Passing Strange” with Bandit Lites

USA – When UNCSA schools of Drama and Design & Production presented the ground-breaking rock musical “Passing Strange,” written by Tony-award winning artist Stew, lighting designer Wheeler Moon knew he needed a unique rig for the unique show. Bandit Lites was thrilled to provide gear to help Moon realise his vision for the production’s lighting.

“Alongside our director Christopher Burris, we decided lighting was going to help tell the journey of our main character ‘Youth’ who was in search for ‘the real’ while also placing us in the world of a concert,” explained Moon. “The lighting, along with the story, had to take Youth to a place of exotic fun and a place of mass chaos and destruction for him to realize that what he had spent his life running away from was actually his version of ‘the real’.”

Moon utilised the lighting to denote different locations, such as having the lighting look the most concert like and unrealistic when the Youth was supposed to be far from home.

“When designing the lighting rig, I knew it had to be versatile but also have some concert elements,” explained Moon. “The show takes place in the 1980s, so I wanted to bring that authentic concert lighting feel to moments. Bandit was able to rent us classic rock blinders; this became a huge part of the design. It is not often in theatre that we have a bunch of old PAR 64s, a wall of PARs and a ton of blinders on a truss all visible to the audience.”

For Moon, renting from Bandit was the obvious choice stating, “Bandit is the definition of rock concert lighting, and I didn't want it to feel like just another piece of theatre.”

In addition to Bandit’s legacy as the leader in concert lighting, Moon shared that Bandit Lites is an essential reason he is doing lighting at all saying, “If it wasn't for Michael Strickland and Bandit Lites' support, I would not be where I am today. I got to spend the summer working at Bandit before going to college, and it was actually my first job ever, and the things I learned that summer I still use in my work today four years later.”

“Wheeler has been working with Bandit for quite some time now,” said Bandit Lites production manager Giff Swart. “He was always very active with the Knoxville Children’s Theatre and later worked for Bandit during the summer of 2018, doing several local events. Mr. Moon is a very talented young man, and I feel his future is very bright indeed!”

For Moon, lighting “Passing Strange” was a fitting production to mark the new path he is forging in his career, sharing the words from writer of Passing Strange who once said this about the show: “It’s about the costs of being a young artist. It's a 46-year-old guy looking back at the things that he did and the values he had in his 20s, sort of when you're making that decision to really be an artist.

“I am a 21-year old artist just starting my career as a lighting designer,” finished Moon. “This show and getting to work with Bandit felt like the perfect way to end my time at UNCSA and start my professional career.”

“Wheeler Moon is the next superstar on Broadway,” said Bandit Lites chair and founder Michael T. Strickland. “He began coming to Bandit when he was a child, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do – and he did it! The dedication, passion, and talent he possesses is second to none. In a few years Wheeler will be one of the brightest stars on Broadway – I have no doubt!”

21st April 2022

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