Gene Leitermann
Principal, ASTC

Gene is co-founder of Nextstage Design. He worked as a stage carpenter and dimming system designer prior to joining Systems Design Associates, a New Haven-based theater design consulting firm, where he spent 12 years including 6 as vice president. He began working at Theatre Projects Consultants as a senior consultant in 1996, and led the US office from 2003 until 2014, when he left to form Nextstage Design. Gene serves on the faculty at Yale School of Drama, has lectured internationally, and has provided public testimony, code change proposals, and written commentary to the National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, and United States Access Board.  He has collaborated with many of the top-ranked architects in the United States on nearly every type of performing arts facility.


Tony Forman
Principal, ASTC

Tony is co-founder of Nextstage Design. He worked in major opera houses—including New York City Opera during Beverly Sills’s tenure—toured with the Royal Ballet, taught technical production and oversaw operations for the School of Theater at CalArts, managed Madison Repertory Theatre, and established the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee. When Tony joined Theatre Projects Consultants in 2007, he realized he had found his calling in the specialized field of theater planning and design. His diverse perspectives help him see what artists need and audiences enjoy. Tony brings a focus on high-quality, imaginative theater design that communities will value for generations to come.


Matt Welander
Consultant, ETCP Certified

Matt is a theater designer at Nextstage Design. His early production experience includes work as a stage carpenter, electrician, rigger, and stage manager for New York Fringe Festival, Big Red Media, the Juilliard School, Glimmerglass Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. Matt joined Theatre Projects Consultants as a theater designer and project manager in 2009, and left in 2012 to join the faculty at Yale School of Drama as assistant professor and technical director—positions he still holds. Matt has also worked as a designer and drafter for LVH Entertainment Systems. He brings diverse experiences in theater and opera productions, teaching, manufacturing, and consulting to his work for our clients.


Stephanie Smith

Stephanie is a system designer at Nextstage Design. In addition, she is the Staff Sound Engineer at Yale School of Drama, where she works with student engineers to design, draft, and install sound systems. Having worked at a variety of theaters including PCPA Theaterfest, New York Stage & Film, New York Shakespeare in the Park, Trinity Repertory Company, and more, her experience installing systems in so many different theaters and diverse situations has fueled her desire to help others find practical yet creative solutions for their unique needs. This, combined with her passion for drafting, creates an enthusiasm for each project that is evident in her work and her attitude.


Erich Bolton

Erich is a system designer at Nextstage Design. He was projection supervisor at Yale Repertory Theatre and an assistant professor at Yale School of Drama, where he taught courses in projection engineering, control systems for live entertainment, and digital technologies. Erich has designed numerous video, LED, automation, network, and control systems for Hudson Scenic Studio, including two theaters for Disney Cruise Lines, many Broadway shows and tours, and several parade floats for Disney’s Magic Kingdom. His strong engineering background and diverse theatrical experience give him a unique perspective on the design of user-friendly, mission-critical systems that fit our clients’ needs.


NJ Ollsten
Office Coordinator

NJ is the office coordinator at Nextstage Design and an editor of two independent literary presses of experimental poetry and prose in physical and digital formats. NJ has worked in libraries, publication, and coworking, which gives them a good head for faces, names, and the challenge of organizing creative work. Their strong archival and community building background ensures all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted in the exciting and detailed world of theater design. They also come from a theater family, who is happy they’re continuing the family tradition.