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These two high school roommates once dreamed of reviving ‘Parade.’ Now they’ve done that — and more

Tony-nominated director Michael Arden and designer Dane Laffrey collaborated on “Parade and “A Christmas Carol” — and that’s just this season.

(L-R) Michael Arden and Dane Laffrey as high school students; Arden and Laffrey at the 2023 Tony Awards “Meet the Nominees” Press Day (Credit: Courtesy of Arden and Laffrey)

In the fall of 1998, Michael Arden traveled from his hometown in Midland, Texas, to Michigan’s Interlochen Academy of the Arts. In preparing to attend the prestigious arts boarding school that spring, Arden needed to audition for the upcoming shows. While he was visiting, he recalled, “I saw a production of ‘The Miracle Worker’ and the sound design was done by a guy named Dane Laffrey. I had never heard sound like that.” When Arden actually started Interlochen in the second semester of his junior year, he sought out Laffrey, the only design student in their class. As Laffrey said, “There was some kind of immediate connection.” The two roomed together their senior year and a partnership was born.

At the height of their youth, at the zenith of creative possibility, Arden and Laffrey fed off each other. “As young people starting training in the arts and being exposed to so much media, we were developing and sorting out our aesthetic,” Arden said. Laffrey added, “We developed an ongoing dialogue about whatever we were thinking about artistically or wanting to unpack or untangle or explore — what we were watching or listening to that was interesting.”

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