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Bill Mensching to be Honored with Backstage Legends and Masters Award

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • February 20, 2020

Bill Mensching

Purchase College, State University of New York’s Broadway Technical Theatre History Project, will present the Ninth Annual Broadway technical Backstage Legends and Masters Award to theater legend, William M. (Bill) Mensching on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7 p.m. at The Performing Arts Center on campus, located at 735 Anderson Hill Road in Purchase, NY. This free event will be recorded and archived for future viewing.

Mensching started his Broadway career over five decades ago working at Feller Scenic Studios, located at the time in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He joins previous Backstage Legends and Masters honorees Artie Siccardi (2012), Arnold Abramson (2013), Fred Gallo (2014), Gene O’Donovan (2015), Pete Feller, Sr. (2016), Joseph B. Forbes (2017), Alyce Gilbert (2018), and David Rosenberg (2019).

Mensching is the fourth generation of his family to work on Broadway and he has spent much of his life involved in technical theatre. As President of ShowMotion, Inc.—one of the foremost commercial scene shops in the industry for over the past 35 years—he has been responsible for a host of productions for Broadway, Las Vegas, tours, industrials/corporate events, and architectural theming for stadiums, hotels, casinos, and high end restaurants. His very impressive portfolio of work includes the groundbreaking 1987 production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe’s Starlight Express with scenic design by John Napier which helped change the rules for theatrical scenery on Broadway and ushered in a new era in computer controlled automation and large scale, three dimensional scenery.

He has worked on such legendary Broadway and touring productions as To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story (2020), Company (2020), Beetlejuice, Tina, Lehman Trilogy, Hairspray, Tootsie, Pretty Woman, Kinky Boots, Jersey Boys, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Hello Dolly (2017),Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2016), School of Rock, Catch Me If You Can, Ground Hog Day, Smokey Joe’s Café, The Producers, among hundreds of other productions over his many years of building productions. In addition to his work with John Napier, Mensching has worked with designers that include Tony Walton, Scott Pask, David Rockwell, Eugene Lee, Robin Wagner, Anna Louizos, Santo Loquasto, Andrew Jackness, Bunny Christie, John Lee Beatty, Michael Yeargan, Beowulf Borritt, Derek McLane, Bob Crowley, Christopher Oram, David Gallo, Alexander Dodge, Klara Zieglerova, Rob Howell, and many, many, more.

“Bill is one of the most accomplished people working in this business,” said Dan Hanessian, associate professor at Purchase, who launched the Broadway Technical Theatre History Project in 2011. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that he has changed how things are done on Broadway. The innovations he has helped drive have influenced not only how scenery is built and controlled, but what is possible from a design perspective,” he said. Hanessian trains up-and-coming technical directors and production managers in the Design/Technology Program of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Purchase.

About the Backstage Legends and Masters & the Broadway Technical Theatre History Project
Backstage Legends and Masters, founded by Dan Hanessian, is an annual public presentation spotlighting individuals who have been central to the realization of Broadway productions for many years, but are not typically provided recognition through the Tony or Drama Desk awards. Each year, an individual is selected by a panel of distinguished professionals who represent a variety of Broadway production specialties.

“The goal of the Broadway Technical Theatre History Project is to create a living history of the shops and technical personnel who have played a role in the realization of Broadway productions,” Hanessian explains.

This information will be available to the public in a centralized database. The project will also include a visual history and timeline of the shops. For more information, contact Dan Hanessian at dan.hanessian@purchase.edu or (914) 251-6854.

About the Theatre Design/Technology Program at Purchase College
Housed in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, the professional training program emphasizes studio and classroom training, all under the guidance and support of established and theatre industry professionals. Many of the program’s alumni are recognized at the top of their field, and have received Tony, Emmy, Obie, and Drama Desk awards, among other honors. Purchase grads are working in or have worked in every theatre on Broadway, in all Tristate venues, and with countless touring productions. After the common freshman-year curriculum, students may choose to concentrate in scenic design, costume design, lighting design, costume technology, state management, or technical direction/production management.

About Purchase College, SUNY
Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspiration for Purchase was to create a dynamic campus that combined conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, in order to inspire an appreciation for both intellectual and artistic talents in all students. Today, Purchase College, SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit www.purchase.edu.

 

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