Adam Blumenthal: New York

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
 I’m a born and raised New Yorker who spent my college years + 2 in LA.  (Go Trojans!)  I was looking for a college experience that was slightly further removed from my parents than a few stops on the 6 train and ended up all the way across the country.  After six years out west, New York beckoned me home, but my work as a theatrical lighting designer keeps me busy traveling coast to coast on red eyes all too often.
Describe your experience in LA

When I’m in LA, I pretty much live out of my car–It’s like a walk in closet and storage locker rolled into one. I have a great group of friends who are very accommodating of my frequent couch surfing, so its simply a matter of driving my “closet” up to whatever neighborhood I feel like waking up in the next morning and moving in for a few nights.  Home base usually depends on proximity to the given theatre or three that I’m working in at the time, but I’m equally at home whether staying downtown above the Edison or in Santa Monica with a morning view of the pacific.

Describe your experience in NYC.

New York is home on so many levels, there’s not much more to be said.  In addition to my work in theatre as a lighting designer, I’m also a magician and small business owner.  I own and operate Tannen’s Magic, one of the oldest magic shops,in business since 1925!  If Im not sitting in a dark theatre, you can find me behind the counter at Tannen’s located in a commercial office building in midtown across from the Empire State Building.  Between magic and my design work, I rarely have a day off, but am certainly never bored!

What is the biggest challenge in splitting time?

At this point in my life, I’m equally at home in both cities, but the biggest challenge is in juggling design projects on both coasts and operating a small business remotely when I find myself in LA.  In theatre, I’m rarely ever working on only one project at a time.  I’ll never get used to juggling more than one LA gig at a time when on any given day I may need to be in theaters downtown, on the west side and in Burbank.  In New York, juggling three shows and a check in at the shop means nothing more than a brisk walk or a quick trip on a city bike.  I’ll take that over a full day in a car in LA any day.

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?

In my world, I find a real lack of engagement between NYC and LA. LA has a great theatre scene, but it doesn’t really support commercially viable projects.  The LA theatre scene is exciting and vibrant but dominated by low budget ninety nine seat venues or the not for profit world often catering to an older audience.  New York of course has a booming theatre scene, but often turns to the same old boys club to develop new work. I’d like to see more of the exciting projects I work on in LA have a chance to transfer to NY so that they can meet with a wider audience and hopefully some commercial success.

Currently I’m working on a great project in New York that combines my passions for both theatre and Magic.  Its a show called Nothing To Hide starring two award winning magicians from the Magic Castle and directed by Neal Patrick Harris. I did the lighting design for the initial run last year at the Geffen Playhouse in LA where we ran extended for nineteen weeks and broke all kinds of box office records.  We’ve jumped the pond, or really the cornfields, and brought the show to the Signature Theatre Center on 42nd street where we open next week.  I couldn’t have asked for a better New York / LA engagement!

Favorite LA secret spot

Hama sushi in little Tokyo is my go to spot in LA.  I can point you to more interesting sushi elsewhere in LA, but nothing beats the quality and the atmosphere of Hama. There’s no real menu to speak of, just sushi and it’s no bigger than the sushi bar and two small tables.

Favorite NYC secret spot
Can I say my store?  We’re hidden and definitely secret.  You’ll think you are in the wrong place as you walk down the hall way with paint peeling around you until you step through and back in time to 1925. Otherwise my secret spot in NY is anywhere where I can simply get into my own head space and tune out the chaos of the city.  I live in Chelsea all the way on Eleventh avenue and I love the high line, but its certainly no secret so sometimes I need to escape down below the High Line into the Hudson River Park and just lie in the rolling grass of pier 64 or watch the carousel next door.

If you were not at doing what you are now, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t splitting time between LA and NYC, I’d be swimming in the Hudson River!  I’m a semi retired marathoner and triathlete, but I race the New York Triathlon every summer and there’s no more New York experience than swimming in the Hudson!

What’s on your playlist right now?

Billy Joel. I scored tickets to a secret last minute show he played last week out on Long Island, It was general admission to a small 1,500 person venue and only announced the day before.  A real old school rock and roll show with a par can rig for any of you lighting nerds who know what I mean.

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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