Behind-the-scenes production professionals, including architects, set designers, costumers and technicians from theatres, universities and even cruise lines will convene in Cincinnati March 18-21 for the 55th United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Annual Conference & Stage Expo.

The conference will include informational sessions and demonstrations from high-profile production companies like Cirque du Soleil and Disney Imagineering, as well as a live demo of the latest flying effect technology used in NBC’s live production of Peter Pan!

“Theatre technology has advanced to incredible new heights in recent years,” said David Grindle, USITT Executive Director. “Between our production professionals in attendance and the technology at our Stage Expo, our event showcases the magic behind a performance. Cincinnati’s rich legacy of performing arts, combined with the compact downtown, makes it an ideal location for us.”

The 4-day event is expected to attract more than 5,000 professionals to the city, bringing nearly $1.6 million in economic impact to the local economy. Event programming and Stage Expo will be held at the Duke Energy Convention Center, with contracted room blocks at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati, Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown, and the Westin Hotel. The USITT Annual Conference & Expo is returning to Cincinnati for the first time since 2009.

Legendary Broadway Designer & Cincinnati Native to be Honored
USITT will honor Cincinnati native and legendary Broadway scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt twice. He will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award for Scene Design on Friday. Schmidt has designed 57 Broadway shows, including Damn Yankees (1994) and the revival of Into the Woods (2002). He is the subject of USITT’s latest book, The Designs of Douglas W. Schmidt, which will premiere at the conference.

“It’s particularly great because Cincinnati is where I started my career,” said Schmidt. “My first professional design job was at the Playhouse in the Park. I had nothing on my agenda for the summer, so I walked in and introduced myself to Brooks Jones. He said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m just here.’ He said, ‘Want to design a show?’”

Cincinnati’s Arts Scene Inspires Special Conference Programming
The Cincinnati Conference marks the latest installment of the biennial “Light Lab” at the USITT Conference & Stage Expo. The 2015 version showcases working in a LED environment, letting attendees explore the latest lighting technology throughout the week.

The Conference features more than 275 educational sessions-- from 3-D printed props, to “green” scene design, to flying people safely -- offering an inside view of the backstage arts. Stage Expo is bigger than ever, with over 280 exhibitors of the latest in stage technology. Paint Lab, a live scene painting exhibit, the Tech Olympics for college theatre teams across the country, and other contests challenge participants to create on the fly.

The event’s Cincinnati location also inspired several sessions on the region’s art offerings: The Costumes and Costumers of the Cincinnati Ballet, LumenoCity: Making Music Hall Come to Life, The Show Boat: Floating Theatre Then and Now, and The Legacy Project: Design Excellence and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, among others.

“With our world-class arts scene, it’s undeniable that Cincinnati is an ideal host for USITT's technical professionals and performers,” said Dan Lincoln, President & CEO of the Cincinnati USA CVB. “From inspirational live production events like LumenoCity to the constant innovation of our arts organizations, our region has a deep appreciation for the performing arts. We will welcome some of the world’s finest production professionals with Cincinnati's signature warmth and hospitality.”

For information about the 2015 Annual Conference & Stage Expo, as well as a detailed list of scheduled events, visit