Arts: Escape Artists
Meet the Spoleto scene makers
Technical Theater Solutions (TTS) president Rhys Williams is something of a magician. And if you’ve attended a Spoleto performance, journeyed with Disney Cruise Line, or seen a touring Broadway show, you may have witnessed his “appearing” act.
As technical director for a variety of theatrical events, Williams and his company transform on-paper visions into living, traveling productions. “I work with producers to establish budgets, hire sound and lighting technicians, organize trucking and international freight, create costumes and props, and construct scenery,” explains the backstage Broadway veteran. Before getting any show on the road, he also brings together the cast, creative team, sets, sound, and lights for a week-long tech rehearsal.
Relying on seasonal staff to man the 20,000-square-foot workshop rented from Spoleto, TTS’s five full-timers have executed tours for stage titles like Avenue Q, Mamma Mia!, and American Idiot.
And this month, Williams steps behind the scenes for a 30th Spoleto season. From an extraordinary tree for Matsukaze to a spooky spirit scrim for Le Villi and Mese Mariano, TTS will construct plenty of onstage illusions, but its transformation of the College of Charleston’s TD Arena may be its most magnificent act. Williams worked closely with the building’s engineer and architect to “create a theater in a building never intended to be one,” he says. “We want people to walk in and never know it began as a basketball court.” Presto chango.
A glance at TTS gigs outside of Spoleto
Disney Cruise Line: “To date, Disney Cruise Line hasn’t produced a new show on ship that we haven’t installed,” says Rhys Williams.
Touring shows: Through business partner Steve Gabriel with Work Light Productions, TTS works shows that often visit 50 to 100 different venues in a year. One example, Traces, had a tech rehearsal at Memminger Auditorium in January 2013 and brought some $75,000 to $100,000 to the local economy through construction labor and hotel costs.
Museums: TTS has built exhibit spaces at College of Charleston’s Natural History Museum as well as The Charleston Museum’s new textile exhibit hall and KidStory exhibit.