Production Advantage Powered by VLS

We're the People

Behind the People

Behind the Show

We’re Production Advantage. What’s the advantage?

In a word, it’s our people – and their years of experience in theatre production and working with the products and tools that will help you elevate your productions.  

Meet the Team

Learn more about John

John Conley studied Technical Theatre at Kent State University and Baldwin Wallace College. He sharpened his skills working for Berea Summer Theatre and Karamu House.

He enjoys being able to take care of fulfilling customers’ product orders, but John’s favorite part of the job is being part of a creative process to help our customers find solutions to their lighting challenges and create interesting lighting effects, with items such as gel, gobos and fog. John is proud to have his ETCP Theatre Rigger Certification.

Favorite show: If I know what’s good for me I’ll say Hamlet; I met my wife when we were both working on it.
Favorite show tune: Come on, there are too many. “Somewhere.” “The Impossible Dream.” “Good Morning Starshine” or “Age of Aquarius.” (Is it cheating to say “Pinball Wizard?”)
Likes: Roscolux #39, Skelton Exotic Sangria. Improves your mood just being around it.
Dislikes: The song “Tomorrow.” I heard way too many not-very-good actresses use it for an audition piece back in the day.

Learn more about Cyd

Throughout her 30 years in the industry, Cyd Knight has worn many hats! Between shows in Vermont, New England, Atlanta, and the Carolinas - Cyd has had her fair share of views from the booth and behind the scenes!

From teaching as an adjunct professor at Queens College, lighting and managing professional theatrical productions, and even coordinating lighting for the 1996 Olympics, Cyd knows what it takes and understands each customer's unique needs.

Cyd holds her B.S in Technical Theatre from Johnson State College and once served as one of only three women ever to be president of an IATSE local chapter at the time. Cyd has been with Production Advantage for many years and is proud to share her expertise with customers. In her free time, Cyd is an avid (as in obsessed) gardener and dog lover (proud parent of Suki, pictured)!

Favorite show: Spring Awakenings & Hamilton
Favorite show tune: All of them!
Likes: Good food
Dislikes: Rude people

Learn more about Melissa

During Melissa Rapp’s freshman year of high school, she was accepted into the School for Creative and Performing Arts, majoring in instrumental music. At some point, Melissa signed up to be on light crew for The Boyfriend, where she also worked to build the set. She was hooked. In her junior year of high school, her flute teacher told her to choose between pursuing music and theatre. We’re glad that theatre won.

Melissa attended Purdue University and the University of Cincinnati CCM.

Favorite show: Jesus Christ Superstar
Favorite show tune: Yikes, that’s a long list, but here are a few! “What’s the Buzz”, “Let the Sunshine In”, “Master of the House”, “Believe in Yourself”, “Jet Song”
Likes: Color, chocolate, gardening, my pets
Dislikes: Poor lighting design

Learn more about Michelle

Michelle Leigh started designing lights in high school and eventually move in to set design. She attended Wright State University and graduated in 2007 with a B.F.A. in Theatre Design, Technology, and Stage Management with a concentration in Technical Direction.

Throughout her career she has been in many roles including scenic design, technical director, lighting design, props master, charge artist, production manager, and adjunct teacher. She has had the pleasure of working with Stivers School for the Arts, Town Hall Children’s Theatre, The Dayton Playhouse, and Turpin High School. She is a cofounder of The SEED Theatre Project and enjoys training the next generation of theatre professionals

Favorite show: Into the Woods
Favorite show tune: Too many! Everything from Hamilton, Ragtime, South Pacific, Wicked and of course, Into the Woods.
Likes: Coffee & Chocolate
Dislikes: Sloths

Learn more about Mandi

Mandi Stevens joined the VLS Product Team as Inside Sales in July of 2017. Whether working with a customer via the phone, in person or with our sales team, she strives to fulfill her customers’ visions, by listening to identify their needs, address concerns and provide them with creative solutions. Mandi explains, “When we can give our customers exactly what they want, it’s very inspiring!”

Mandi received her BA in Theatre from The Ohio State University and an MFA in Technical Theatre and Design Technology at Florida Atlantic University. She has put her degrees to good use in numerous community theatres, as well as in the academic world teaching theatre in preschool, middle school and at Cleveland State University.

Mandi has worked all around the Cleveland theatre scene and says, “Vincent is just a staple in our theatre community.” Her VLS schedule allows her to continue honing her production skills at various local theatres. Mandi is also a member of the Young Professional Group through Cleveland Play House.

We asked Mandi what her go-to product is: “Without a doubt, gaff tape! I use it at work, home and the theatre; it fixes everything.”

Favorite show: Our Town
Favorite show tune: "Sun & Moon" from Miss Saigon
Likes: Cats
Dislikes: The fact that I am too short to use my sun visor in my car.

Learn more about David

For as long as he can remember, David Silvernail has always been a geek who’s been fascinated with the way things work. In middle school, David began his entry into the world of live entertainment by volunteering with the sound team at church. In high school, David spent four years working on shows both in audio and lighting. At Shepherd College for IT, David spent most of his free time in the theatre, learning how it really worked. Seeing a need for an online community for those just starting out, David created while in college, which, almost two decades later, is the leading online forum for discussion and help within the technical entertainment industry.

Favorite show: Starmites
Favorite show tune: "The Room Where It Happens"
Likes: Baseball (Boston Red Sox), Photography, LEGO, and heist movies
Dislikes: Coconuts, Pineapple, and this summer, Cicadas.

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What People are Saying

"Always good service - AND this shipment arrived practically overnight!"

Kate T.

"Melissa Rapp is always very helpful when ordering parts & supplies, and orders are filled promptly"

John N.

"Dealing with John Conley has been nothing but professional and perfect..."

Gary T.

"Prompt service. Quick updates to orders. John gave a ton of insight into a different lamp to try to replace our FEL lamps. The team had great communication on backordered lamps and had everything prepped for my pick up. Got all necessary lamps installed prior to start of academic year.

Thank you."

Michael S.

"The gentleman that I spoke to on the phone (John Conley) was great. He made sure that I got exactly the item that I needed by asking questions about what it was going to be used for. The items arrived just a few days after the order was placed. So far, the item we received is doing exactly what we wanted it to do and will more than likely be ordering some more not only for our school but also other schools in our corporation."

Brandon T.

"John Conley was extremely helpful figuring out all the cables and accessories I would need to make my lighting package of 6 Source 4 minis and 4 ColorSource PARs.. He also answered my endless questions about ETC Nomad and their educational package. Everything arrived quickly and it’s all in working order."

Jill D.


"Cyd was great to work with, helpful and understanding. All items were in stock/available and the product got to us on time."

Erin K.


"Excellent customer service and delivery was ridiculously quick."


Chris G.

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