LCF Lighting Designer Wins Ovation Award

Photo courtesy Josh Epstein
Josh Epstein and his wife, Beth Johnson, celebrate his Ovation Award shortly after he was recognized for Lighting Design during Monday’s ceremony at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

How about an Ovation for La Cañada Flintridge’s Josh Epstein?
The lighting designer was honored by his peers with his first Ovation Award on Monday for his work on the comedic play “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” which ran last spring at the Geffen Playhouse.
The Ovation Awards, held this week at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, are peer-judged theater awards, created to celebrate excellence in theatrical performance, production and design in the Greater Los Angeles area.
“It’s an amazing event,” Epstein said Tuesday by phone. “Los Angeles is not known as a theater town, but there’s a lot of theater going on across the city. One thing L.A. has in spades is the talent. There are so many amazing actors and dancers and choreographers and musicians.”
And lighting designers.
Nominated for the first time, Epstein — formerly the president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation and a leader of the “Yes on Measure LCF” bond campaign last fall — won the prize for his illuminating work on “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” a play described by the L.A. Times as “a drag-queen-coming-of-age extravaganza.”
Epstein relished his role in the production, which required lighting to fit a wide range of moods.
“The play is set in this dingy bar, but then the bar starts getting more popular, and they start adding some lighting equipment,” Epstein said. “They actually say in the play, ‘add some more lights.’ And in the stage notes for the play, in the final performance at the end, they said they wanted it to look like a Beyoncé concert.
“So it went from a drab bar to a light show. A lot of lighting is most effective when you have something to contrast it to, and this play offered that in really amazing ways.”
In addition to teaching lighting design at UCLA, Epstein has worked on numerous productions across the nation, from New York to Pasadena. Usually, he said, his work is done when a production premieres. It was different with “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”
“By then, I’ve seen it 15 or 20 times, and that’s the last time I see it,” he said. “But this time, I went back a couple of times; I enjoyed watching it so much.”
He also enjoyed Monday’s event and had fun “dusting off the tux,” even though he said wasn’t sure whether he was more excited or terrified at the thought of winning, and having to get up and give a speech.
In the end, he had to/got to give that speech, thanking everyone he’d written down, including the people at the Geffen Playhouse, for their support of him and so many other L.A. actors and designers.
“It was really fun,” Epstein said. “There was a real sense of camaraderie as you were sitting there in that audience.”

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