Warwick ‘Wick’ Musson ’52: A Spark of Light

Warwick “Wick” Musson ’52 was bitten by the theatre bug at Punahou, but little did he suspect that it would lead him to his life’s work.

After enrolling at Punahou in 1949 as a Wilcox boarder, Dillingham Hall became his second home. At the time, there was only one theatre faculty member, the revered “Bren” Breneman. Heading for a sabbatical in 1951, Breneman entrusted three seniors, including Musson, to care for the equipment, sound and lights at Dillingham and pass their knowledge to underclassmen.

The same year, Josephine Flanders, founder of the Punahou dance program, also asked Musson to design and hang lights, as well as find and train the crew for the Variety Show and the Dance School’s big upcoming performance. The Class of ’52 was the penultimate to graduate in Dillingham Hall, and Musson handled the lights and ticketing for that too.

Continuing to Stanford University, he majored in electrical engineering, and unsurprisingly, gravitated to the theatre. He met his wife-to-be, Jan, a theatre major, when they volunteered to operate the followspots for a production of “Of Thee I Sing.” Sharing a dedicated intercom, they had hours to spend getting to know each other between light cues, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Wick spent 30 years as a software engineer at IBM in Silicon Valley, while he and Jan started a theatrical equipment company in their living room in Los Gatos. Founded in 1971, Musson Theatrical, Inc. grew to become one of the largest theatrical equipment sales and rental businesses in the country. The couple moved to Kentucky in 1989, started a Louisville branch of Musson Theatrical, and sold the company in 1995. Jan passed away in 2015.

A few years ago, Wick met Punahou Theatre Technical Director Chris Patrinos and helped Punahou with a timely gift of production equipment for the School’s 2019 fall production of “Into the Woods.”

“His gift moved Punahou into the 21st century in lighting and electrical equipment,” Patrinos said. “The technology we had in Dillingham was from 1996, so I had put together a comprehensive list to move us toward LED instrumentation and technology to put a dent in the School’s net zero goal.”

Thanks to Wick, Punahou acquired 42 new LED lighting instruments. “We use his gift every single day in Dillingham – every time we turn the lights on,” Patrinos said.

Wick gives to Punahou to acknowledge the School’s role in the trajectory of his life’s experiences and successes. In appreciation, he has made annual donations to the Punahou Fund for the past 55 years. He also decided to continue his support with a gift from his estate, including Punahou in his will. Reflecting on Punahou today, he said, “I like the place that Punahou has become.”

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