When Jonah Beadle was 9 years old, he had a vision; in looking at a rectangle storage room on the bottom level of his South Pasadena home, he could see it; a theatre! It started in stages and recently picked up speed with the addition of professional lighting fixtures, lighting and sound boards and a one woman show to inaugurate the space. Beadle’s hope is that drama friends and other artists will make use of his new, black box theatre saying, “it’s available!”
It all started with Jonah getting to know Kirsten Vangsness on the set of Criminal Minds where his father works as Sound Supervisor. In January, after hearing about his passion for lighting design, Kirsten asked Jonah to design the lighting for her one woman show, Mess, at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. It’s a show that Vangsness has been working on for years; it is one of those shows that is so deeply personal it ends up resonating universally. Of designing his first professional show Jonah says, “it was a really exciting, fun job. When I finished working on my theatre I thought, ‘I need a show to go down here’ and I immediately thought of Kirsten’s show.” He emailed Vangness and says her two word response was “hells yes”.
Jonah’s father, David, had the idea of making it a fundraiser for Theatre of NOTE, the non-profit theatre that has been near and dear to Kirsten’s heart for over twenty years. “This is a no brainer,” says Vangsness, “this is such an honor to do this here. I am such a theatre nerd; it saved me since I was a kid. Art, in general, is the great equalizer. It’s not about your age or experience, it’s ‘love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art’ so you have to keep going. It’s your responsibility to keep making things, so the fact that Jonah has taken that responsibility so seriously? Of course I want to participate in that. The money raised tonight is going to go towards making more art in other places.”
Mess started about ten years ago as a show for the LA Fringe Festival and has grown over the years as Kirsten has honed it. Vangsness explains, “then it became this living document, meditation on a problem that I don’t totally have solved which is how to move forward when you have a lot of negative self-talk.” She goes on to say, “after the November election I became interested in doing a run of this show and have been really moved by how well it has resonated in places like Alabama and Porterville, California and it’s been an incredible experience.” By the way, Kirsten wants us to know that the lighting design template that Jonah created at NOTE is the one she takes with her on tour because she says, “it’s so good and it’s beautiful.”
Jonah’s dream is to design for the Broadway stage and/or Cirque du Soleil shows and is looking to study lighting design and production in college. If you’ve been involved in any local theatre in the past several years, then you’ve probably seen Jonah at work. He remembers going to see shows and thinking to himself, “I like this, what’s in the air? What’s making all these colors happen on stage?” He started running lights with the middle school musical in 6th grade and hasn’t stopped, crediting Mr. Jontz at SPHS with being instrumental to his growth as a designer saying, “Mr. Jontz is a great role model and without him teaching me what I know today, this production would not have happened.”
Mess was a sold out event and Jonah was thrilled with the whole evening saying, “Kirsten is a great friend who performed perfectly, as I knew she would. It meant a lot to me because I know she would only have done this for someone she supports 100% so I feel honored.” The South Pas High junior concludes, “I feel like it went excellent! I hope the space can be used many more times in the future!”