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NPR: Broadway's Answer Man, Chic Silber-- Now with link


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What do the original productions of West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, and, Wicked all have in common? The same thing that the Broadway premiers of Amadeus, Nicholas Nicholby, and the some of the snazziest stunts in Ringling Bros Circus have in common (If you ever saw the tiger dancing on the spinning mirrored disco ball, that was him).

Chic Silber.

He's been a special effects designer for Broadway and Circuses for over fifty years. His first gig was manning the front spot (lead spot light) for West Side in 1959. He was the guy who made Frank Langella's Dracula fly and ironically not suck. He was one of those behind the scenes guys that is funny, humble, and practically invisible.

Just a heck of an incredible life. An inventor, designer, and a cool guy. In fact, in a few weeks he's heading off to Korea because he's been asked to remount a production of Disney's Aida over there.

Anyway, meeting this guy and interviewing him was a trip. Can you imagine being associated and in large part responsible for so many big shows that almost everyone knows... and the flops he's been a part of too! The cutting room floor was immense on this one, but I think the piece is still quite strong.

In some ways, I have always had a softer heart for the behind the scenes guys than the stars. Whether it was the engineer and inventor versus the pilot or the builder versus the architect. Silber says that you don't leave a show humming the scenery, but without his work it would be so much harder to enter and revel in the worlds the writers, directors, and actors attempt to take you to.

Hope you guys give it a listen... and also, if you know some really cool "invisible" guys share it in this thread. There are so many people who never get their due.

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Hmmm... got an email at 10 last night saying they needed to cut the piece because of time issues. Looks like I'm going to be hearing it for the first time this afternoon too.

Really a genuinely nice guy.

for those interested

about 1:30 give or take on wamu.org/programs/mc or 88.5 FM locally.

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