Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Texas sophomore wins BroadwayWorld Houston Award for best lighting

Sophie Pascal
Theatre and Dance junior Jacob Zamarripa stands for a portrait outside of F. Loren Winship Drama Building on Tuesday.

The theater community offers a chance to develop young artists’ skills and talents while building a sense of belonging. Often, when people think about theatrical productions, the actors tend to come to mind first. However, many of the people that make the show run never get put in the spotlight. 

Jacob Zamarripa, theatre and dance sophomore, started as a lighting designer at the age of 14. Zamarripa has since curated an outstanding technical portfolio with community and professional theater programs in Austin and his hometown of Houston, in addition to working as a lighting designer with the Texas theatre and dance program. Zamarripa recently won the BroadwayWorld Houston award for Best Lighting Design Of A Play Or Musical for the June 2023 production of “Ride the Cyclone” at the Jet-Pac theater. 

“The musical tells the story of this group of teenagers that go to an amusement park and ride the cyclone roller coaster,” Zamarripa said. “They all end up perishing when the front axle breaks on the roller coaster, and … one person is given a chance to come back to life.” 

The musical went viral in the theater community, which prompted members of the Jet-Pac theater to produce their own version. Initially, they ran into an obstacle when the show only gave licenses to educational institutions and professional theaters. 

“Our director actually wrote to the office of Jacob Richmond, (the writer of the musical),” Zamarripa said. “We ended up getting special permission to produce the show.”

Zamarripa said he worked with director Alyssa Pubentz, a graduate of the musical theater program at The University of Tampa, and a longtime member of the Jet-Pac theater, to truly bring the show to life. 

“(Zamarripa) can have larger-than-life ideas, and somehow he makes them work,” Pubentz said. 

With a history of working on musicals together, Pubentz and Zamarripa proved to be an effective team. For his innovative lighting work, Zamarripa won the BroadwayWorld Houston Award for Best Lighting Design Of A Play Or Musical. 

“To be recognized by people … throughout the entire city was very amazing,” Zamarripa said. “It made me feel very good.”

After completing work on the production in the summer of 2023, Zamarripa returned to UT and continues to help coordinate lighting design for productions at Zach Theater and UT New Theater. His new show “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” runs through March 3. 

Not only do the lighting and technical aspects of a production assist the audience with the visual experience, but actors appreciate it as well. Brooklynn King, a vocal performance major at West Texas A&M and “Ride the Cyclone” cast member, said no show can go on without tech people.  

“I think that (Zamarripa’s) work goes unappreciated a lot of the time,” King said. “It’s not someone singing a high note or doing a really impressive monologue, but it’s absolutely breathtaking to watch.”  


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