University at Albany

Doug Gentile

My student life at UAlbany prepared me for an unforgettable experience in the entertainment world. There were both students and faculty in the program that recognized the untapped talent in me and took me under their wings, helping me to discover my love for theatre. Being a Departmental Theatre major concentrating in lighting design in the late 70s turned out to be a godsend. President Jimmy Carter had just taken office and happened to be a big fan of The National Endowment for the Arts. Many national and international dance and theatre companies toured through our stages at UAlbany. At that time, I was a student Technical Director under the guidance of the resident Technical Director Tom Clark. Because of this, I made some excellent connections working on these UAlbany performances.

Right after graduation I moved to Manhattan and kicked around for a year, working for such greats as Twyla Tharp, plus in various Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theatres, as well as the Juilliard scene shop. I even toured with a small ballet company performing The Nutcracker (Every good theatre tech needs to work at least one Nutcracker in one’s lifetime). Is there an Off-Off-Off-Off-Broadway? There must be because I was their wardrobe supervisor!

I eventually went to visit family in California and stayed! I was again lucky enough to land a job with a lighting production company that had mostly music acts as clients. At that time in entertainment, moving lights were in their infancy. I became a moving light programmer and my whole world grew. Does anyone remember the show “Solid Gold”? This show was where moving lights and “smoke graphics” were introduced for the first time. Bobby Dickinson was the Lighting Director who had the vision to take theatrical lighting in this direction. I was part of his team and appreciated Bobby’s input in my professional future.

In the 80s I was fortunate enough to tour with Jimmy Buffett, The Grateful Dead, Barry Manilow, Santana, Michael Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass , Huey Lewis, David Copperfield, and John Denver, to name just a few. I also worked a couple of Super Bowl halftime performances and almost every Las Vegas act that was on tour at that time. Does anyone remember Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck, Mac Davis, The Pointer Sisters, and Wayne Newton? I happen to know all of the lyrics to “Danke Schoen” if anyone is interested. I was asked for a short bio of what I’ve been up to, but come on, I’ve been in the business for 38 years!

I will quickly pass over the Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe years, only because I don’t really remember them. Fast forward to the early 90’s where I find myself working with Sir Richard Pilbrow, Jules Fisher, and Ken Posner on Broadway, not to mention a season with Saturday Night Live as their moving light programmer.

I’ve slowed down in my later years, but I am still a “roadie.” I am now enjoying a rather quiet life in Atlanta, Georgia with my family and spending my weekends in the fall and winter working as ESPN’s lighting director for their Emmy Award-winning College GameDay football and basketball shows. In the summer months I am working with the talented people of FOX Golf.

I am where I am today because of friends, family, and fellow workers believing in me and my convictions.

I'll leave you with a favorite quote that has always held true for me: “It will all be good in the end. So if it is not good, Then it is not the end.”