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2018 Solon High grad Jesse Uguccini

Solon High School graduate Jesse Uguccini is a self-described theater rat.  She just graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in Theater with a focus in lighting design and recently served as lighting director for the university’s production of ‘The Crucible’ in April.

But her theater roots began to grow right here in Solon. 

She fell in love with the theater at the Solon Center for the Arts, where she acted in productions from third to eighth grade. 

Once at Solon High School she joined the drama club, became one of its officers, and took part in every school production, acting, directing and helping with everything from props to costumes, to stage crew.  She continued to help out at the arts center while in high school too. 

But the summer before her senior year of high school, Ms. Uguccini began doing the lighting for summer dance recitals held at Solon High.  It was then that she fell in love with lighting. 

“I would cue the lights, set looks to match the costumes, play with the themes and colors.  I automatically fell in love with lighting,” she said.

She credits her Solon High School Director of Drama, Kris Ferencie, for teaching her about lighting design.  She said Ferencie, a lighting designer and graduate of Baldwin Wallace, influenced her decision to major in theater at Baldwin Wallace, following her graduation from Solon High School in 2018.

Once she got to BW, Ms. Uguccini wasted no time getting involved.  She took part in 8-10 productions a year for all four years, including the university’s full stage shows.  She honed her skills as an electrician for the shows, then master electrician, then assistant lighting director and in her senior year of college, she served as the lighting director for ‘The Crucible.’

A lighting designer’s work begins before the rehearsals even start, according to Ms. Uguccini.

“We meet with the production staff to talk about what we want the show to look like. What messages we want to evoke, what concepts, images, patterns and textures we want to use. We think about color theory.  Colors evoke feelings, and we discuss how we want the production to feel.”

She added that a lighting director also has to order rental fixtures, plan budgets, and think about between 100 and 200 light fixtures.

“For ‘The Crucible,’ for example, it’s a creepy, dark, scary type of show.  We wanted to make sure the lighting fit that style. I also had to think about the gobos - discs that do things like put tree branch shadows on faces, and produce shadows to feel like night time.”

Ms. Uguccini said she works as much as ten or twelve hours a day during the week before a production, a week called Tech Week.  She has to see the actors in costume, see the scenes in action and then plan the entire lighting program around that.

“I created an independent study program with my mentor David Stoughton, professor of lighting design at BW.  I was able to get credit for working as the lighting director for this show,” she said.

‘The Crucible’ was a well received at Baldwin Wallace and Ms. Uguccini said that many in the audience were her support system;  her parents, boyfriend, classmates and friends.  She graduated on May 7th and returned to Solon- for the moment.

Next up for this theater rat, is a trip to Europe, to visit 10 different cities, and see theater productions and live shows in places like England and Greece.  

“Its kind of a little reward to myself, for graduating, but also something I have always dreamed of doing.”

Once she returns to Ohio, Ms. Ugoccini said she is looking to do a variety of things in theater as a freelancer in Cleveland.  She will work as an actor, director, and lighting designer.  And also as a voice actor, sound engineer, or children’s theater producer.

“I just want to be involved with all aspects of theater. In acting, my dream job would be in a long- running multiple season show, like a sitcom; in lighting my dream job would be lighting design on Broadway; and as a director, I would love to be a children’s theater director,” said Ms. Uguccini.

She works as an acting coach for students auditioning for college and also lends her voice to radio productions.  She has a website for acting at jesseuguccini.com and for lighting design at jesseuguccini.design. 

At the age of 21, Ms. Uguccini is already utilizing all she has learned both on the stage and behind the scenes, thanks to the ripe theater environment she grew up in here in Solon and continued at Baldwin Wallace University.

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