Physics Major and Lighting Pro Helps Airband Shine

Mitch Smith 2012, is a Physics major with a minor in Math, a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, a former Bearitones singer and, to hear Kaleidoscope Operations Manager Jon Brighton tell it, “an all-around lighting whiz.”

Mitch Smith

Physics major and "lighting whiz" Mitch Smith

Smith has worked at the Kaleidoscope for three years and has assisted with nearly every theater production that has occurred during his four years at Ursinus. For three years he has been the lighting designer for Breakaway Student Productions and Escape Velocity Dance Troupe. This past year he joined the Breakaway board as the technical coordinator, and although he no longer sings for the Bearitones, he still gives them technical assistance. “He deserves so much credit for all the work he has put in over the years on college events,” says Brighton. “He graduates this year and will leave us missing his energy and talent.”

For Smith, whose interest in lighting began when his grandmother took his family on a cruise and he became fascinated by the high production values, learning how lighting systems worked at the most basic level and troubleshooting issues became a passion. “In time, this passion grew from being just about how lights worked to what they could be used for,” says Smith. “I pursued my new-found interest by talking to all of the amazing designers brought to the College by the Theater department. I guess what I’ve always enjoyed about lighting is that it is the perfect combination of mathematical precision, programming, and creativity.  In my mind, no other field requires such a broad use of physics while also requiring a unique creative eye.”

Smith’s creativity was most recently displayed at the 29th annual Airband, which is a lip-synching concert that raises funds for local charities in and around the Collegeville area. Student groups as well as faculty and staff choreograph their acts and compete for the titles of Best Comedy Act, Best Costume, Best Choreography, Most Creative and Overall Crowd Pleaser. This year’s event raised $2,875 and benefitted Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, which is located in Norristown.

“Airband is my favorite theater event of the year because it’s the biggest show that we do from a tech standpoint. The lighting and staging elements are somewhat similar to a rock concert, which makes it incredibly fun to run,” says Smith. “It also helps that Airband is for a good cause because then you feel so much better about doing a good job.”

It’s an effort that Director of Multicultural Services Paulette Patton, who is also the Vice President of the Board of Directors of Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, appreciates. “We are most grateful to the Ursinus College Community,” says Patton. “The money received from Airband will allow us to continue many of our services, such as the 24-hour hotline, [visits to] schools to teach children about ‘safe touching,’ bullying and Internet safety, as well as safety tips for Seniors.”

With his final Airband behind him, Smith is making plans for life after Ursinus. He is heading to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for a fellowship program to earn a Ph.D in Energy Science and Engineering…but not before handling the lights for the inauguration of Bobby Fong and even his own graduation ceremony.

Here is a video of the concert, including the performance by Phi Kappa Sigma, which won the Overall Crowd Pleaser award for the third year in a row.

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