Associate designer on Broadway returns to Auburn University to design set for ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Opening night of “The Drowsy Chaperone” is Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Telfair Peet Theatre’s main stage.
Published: February 23, 2017
Updated: June 22, 2017
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Travis McHale, notable lighting and associate designer for several on- and off-Broadway plays, has returned to Auburn University as the scenic and lighting designer for the Tony award-winning musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone." This is his fifth guest artist feature at Auburn, after just completing work on the Academy Award-winning "Sunset Boulevard."

A native of Los Angeles, McHale traveled southeast to attend college at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, formerly known as North Carolina School of the Arts. He said it’s the familiar Southern culture that brought him back to Auburn.

"What I like about Auburn is that everyone is excited to be involved and to be learning new things," said McHale. "Down here there is so much infectious energy."

A decade ago, McHale was brought in by the technical director to help work on the 2007 performance, "Metamorphoses." With only a few years’ difference in age between him and the students, McHale became part of the Auburn Family, sparking relationships with students and professors, including Auburn alumnus Taylor Dyleski, who invited McHale back this spring.

"I met Taylor in 2013 and now he’s hired me. Really, in this business you never know where or how you will get a job," said McHale. "So it’s my lesson to students, be nice to everyone and keep in touch with everyone."

Primarily a lighting designer, this is the first time McHale will be doing both lighting and scenery. However, the musical is not necessarily smaller scale in comparison to his past features.

McHale transformed the main stage of Auburn’s Telfair Peet Theatre to a 1920s setting for the 21-member cast to perform the musical comedy, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” 

"In terms of artistry, Travis McHale is one of the best designers with whom I've had the privilege to work," said Scott Phillips, associate professor and department chair. "In addition, he is an outstanding model for our design students and a generous collaborator. We love working with him."

Opening night of "The Drowsy Chaperone" is Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Telfair Peet Theatre’s main stage. The musical will have both matinee and night performances from Feb. 23-26 and March 1-4.

It definitely has a little message, you see someone transform in front of your eyes through comedy and song and dance," said McHale. "I think it’s something to lighten your day and you’ll walk out of the theater singing a song."

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