PMHS Mourns the Loss of SnB Lighting Designer David Pentz

David Pentz served as lighting director for 
Sock ‘n’ Buskin for over a decade.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Schleifer

David Pentz served as lighting director for Sock ‘n’ Buskin for over a decade.

Lucy Edmunds, Photography Editor, Sophomore

On Christmas Day, PMHS’ Sock ‘n’ Buskin suffered a great loss — that of their long-time lighting designer, Mr. David Pentz. Mr. Pentz had been Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s resident lighting designer since 2003, a guest artist position that was subsidized by Friends of the Performing Arts.

A lighting designer’s job is to guide the audience, with light, shading, and darkness, by showing them where to focus their attention. He creates atmosphere and mood with color, brightness, and shadow. He can make the sun rise, the moon glow and the stars twinkle. He can make an audience jump to their feet in spontaneous applause by turning on chaser lights at the height of a musical number; he can make them laugh at the flick of a spotlight; he can make them cry by drenching the stage in shadows. Mr. Pentz was a master at his craft. For his work on the Sock ‘n’ Buskin production of “Our Town”, Mr. Pentz earned the 2016 National Youth Arts Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for a High School. His final work was represented in the PMHS production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” just this past November.

In addition to his work here with the school, his work was also represented in the community with Pelham Children’s Theatre. David was also the resident lighting designer at the Riverdale Y since 1995, and worked extensively throughout the Bronx and Westchester County in theaters such as Center Stage Community Playhouse, the Herbert Mark Newman Theatre, Pleasantville Music Theatre, Chappaqua Drama Group, and the School House Theater of Croton Falls where he was the resident lighting designer as well.

Mr. Pentz went beyond merely lighting a stage; he took the extra time throughout the years to work with several students, teaching them the process of stage lighting. Sophomore Sam Sucena had the pleasure of assisting him in several shows.

“David Pentz was a very down to earth man and a wonderful teacher to learn from. He cared deeply about our productions here and did his best to make sure that everything was set to perfection to help put on a great show,” Sucena said.

When word of Mr. Pentz’ passing spread, alumni from across the decades reached out to express their sadness. Sara Kenney of the class of ’14 said, “He was a guiding hand in the high school tech careers of many students, and the first person to teach a handful of us about the importance of both good lighting design and stage etiquette.”

Noah Peck of the class of ’13 said, “His distinctive voice will forever be burned into my memory. He was an amazing person, and I feel lucky to have gotten a chance to learn from him.”

Alumna Christina Catalano, class of ‘09, said, “David was a brilliant artist and a lovely person. I’m very lucky to have worked with him for a brief time.”

Former Sock ‘n’ Buskin moderator John Orefice said, “David’s loss is like a death in the family of all who hold educational theater to standards of excellence by loving the art itself. It is impossible to imagine Pelham without his grace.”

Colleague and friend Mr. Beck said, “David was a true artist — he painted with light. Working with our students, David was an integral part of our theatrical productions. I had worked with him since my college years and I will miss him forever.”

Though no one has yet been chosen to fill his position, the spotlight will never dim on the memory of this beloved member of the Sock ‘n’ Buskin family.