Work SpotlightApril 26, 2016

Return to Wright State University

Just a year and a half after designing Wright State University’s kick-off event for their Rise. Shine Campaign, Bartha returned to the WSU E.J. Nutter Center to produce a gala event to celebrate the campaign’s accomplishments.

Although we were ecstatic to be invited back, we faced a bit of a challenge. How do we repeat the previous success of the kickoff event, keep the same branded look and feel, and yet create a new experience for the returning attendees?

Tom Hanks

The short answer is creative content. Wright State University’s Foundation had a plethora of talented student acts from the hit musical Chicago to showcase as well as the onstage appearance of the Rise. Shine. Campaign’s national co-chair, Academy Award-winning actor, producer, and director Tom Hanks.

Yep. Tom Hanks. Great. So how do you entertain a world renowned entertainer who has been to countless red carpet events in Hollywood?

The event’s content challenged Bartha’s scenic department to design a custom set and stage that was large enough for a theater group performance, yet provide an intimate backdrop for a one person delivery. Additionally, it was requested that we incorporate a set piece from the Musical Theatre program’s production of Chicago, as three production numbers were to be included in the evening event.


To accommodate the requests, we centered the arched Chicago set piece and flanked it on either side with art deco inspired set pieces. A rear-projected screen was added behind the arch to change the look of the set with photography and video. An LED proscenium was incorporated and utilized as a blinking marquee. Bartha produced all video elements for the digital set with the final result rivaling the Academy Awards.

The arena floor of the Nutter Center was once again transformed into a glittering landscape for 600 students, faculty, staff, donors and special guests. The night was a spectacular celebration of students, the University, and the success of the Campaign.

To read more about the staging production for this show, check out our case study.

Chicago set piece