WICKED Talks About Their Lighting Design and Light Plot


I randomly ran across this really awesome video of the WICKED team talking about their light plot, lighting design, and lighting design team.  Pretty cool!  Check it out below:

From the video page:

It takes 650 lighting fixtures and a talented team of theatre artists and technicians to light up the WICKED stage. Meet the crew that illuminates Elphaba and makes Glinda glow to tell Oz’s most bewitching story.


Tony Awards for Lighting Design in 2010 – Some Detail On the Designers

I have to admit that apparently since I didn’t watch the Tony Awards last night, I am apparently a bad theatre person.  Or so I’m told.  You see, I’m actually lighting a show and making a paycheck right now, so I didn’t have a chance to sit and watch the Tony Awards show.  Did you watch, or are you baaaad like me?

The big lighting design awards last night were Best Lighting Design for a Play, and Best Lighting Design for a Musical.  In the PLAY category, the Tony was awarded to Neil Austin for Red by John Logan; in the MUSICAL category, the Tony was awarded to Kevin Adams for American Idiot by Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day and Michael Mayer.

Best Lighting Design for a Play: Red (Golden Theatre) by John Logan, lighting design by Neil Austin

Neil Austin – the LD behind the show:

Production images of Red:

(All images from Johan Persson, from the Neil Austin website)

About Red (from the Tony Award website):

Master American expressionist Mark Rothko (Alfred Molina) has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art. But when his young assistant (Eddie Redmayne) gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the agonizing possibility that his crowning achievement could also become his undoing. John Logan’s play is a searing portrait of an artist’s ambition and vulnerability as he tries to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.

Producers: Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie P. McClelland, Matthew Byam Shaw, Neal Street, Fox Theatricals, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Philip Hagemann/Murray Rosenthal, The Donmar Warehouse

The images from the show are amazing.  From a few people who emailed me today to tell me about the show, it was also apparently equally amazing, and Austin’s work is stellar.

Best Lighting Design for a Musical: American Idiot (Berkeley Rep) by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, Lighting Design by Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams, LD behind American Idiot:

Production images from American Idiot, from Kevin Adams’ website:

From the Tony Awards website about American Idiot:

American Idiot tells the exhilarating story of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world, in a journey borne along by songs of the band Green Day. The musical follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration. The cast of 19 is led by past Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr.

Producers: Tom Hulce & Ira Pittelman, Ruth and Steven Hendel, Vivek J. Tiwary and Gary Kaplan, Aged in Wood and Burnt Umber, Scott Delman, Latitude Link, HOP Theatricals and Jeffrey Finn, Larry Welk, Bensinger Filerman and Moellenberg Taylor, Allan S. Gordon/Élan V. McAllister, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Awaken Entertainment, John Pinckard and John Domo

You’ve probably heard of Kevin Adams, if not Neil Austin too.  Kevin Adams got some press on JimOnLight.com last year for his design for Passing Strange (which has become one of my favorite designs ever).  I ran across an article in Live Design that asked Kevin five questions – this was my favorite two – students and people wanting to break into the lighting design industry, pay attention:

Live Design:  What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Kevin Adams:  I was never really interested in a “career,” so I never really asked for career advice. I realized early on that employment as a freelancer was always going to be up and down, so I’ve tried to make every day less about working and more about making things that, at the end of the day, satisfy me. And if other people respond to the work I make, then great.

Live Design:  And what’s the worst?

Kevin Adams: Probably telling myself that a “career” doesn’t matter.

Amazing.  I hope this gives a little bit of insight into the Best Lighting Design category of the Tony Awards.  It is so important to me that people know more than just who won the award!

Rest In Peace, Tharon Musser – 1925-2009


It is much to my dismay to report that Broadway legend lighting designer Tharon Musser passed away this weekend.  Tharon had a very long and very distinguished career, and she will be missed.

Fusion 672 – Video Pixel Panels


A company called Illieum has created a series of pixel battens that connect to create a modular video surface – DMX controllable, connected together by Cat5e, and you can connect up to 270 of these things together.  It’s called the Fusion 672 – the modular design gives the designer the ability to put these things in endless configurations, and the mapping drivers that control the panels allow you to import CAD files of the configuration for true visualization of the work.


White Light, a production company in London is marketing these panels for rental; right now White Light is supplying the Never Forget tour, which is about to go out, with a Fusion 672 system in tow.  From the press release at White Light:

White Light is delighted to announce the launch of Fusion 672 from Illieum, the next generation of LED lighting effect.

A rugged, lightweight batten – just over 1m long and weighing just over 3kg – each Fusion 672 contains a 72×6 array of individually controllable tri-colour LEDs with an ultra-wide viewing angle. Battens can be arranged in any pattern with the units oriented horizontally or vertically, packed tightly together or spaced apart to allow lighting through the array. Fusion 672 can serve as a video display, a lighting fixture, a light sculpture or anything in-between.

Setup of even the most complex systems is easy. Units are daisy-chained together by standard Cat5e cable. The layout of the units is specified in a spreadsheet that is uploaded to the Fusion Mapper controller, which automatically configures and address the units. The Fusion Mapper accepts DVI or VGA video input, mapping the video signal from any computer or media server to a layout of up to 270 battens; alternatively, the system can be controlled via DMX or ArtNet for effect playback.

Incredibly powerful and versatile, Fusion is easy to transport, set-up, rig and de-rig. Flicker-free at low level, super-bright (4000 Nits) at high-levels, yet drawing less than 100W of power per unit even when at full output, Fusion 672 is ideal for events, parties, conferences or fixed installations, for live use or on television or film.

Designed by the team behind the popular, acclaimed Thomas PixelArt, Fusion develops the technology to give improved output and easier control while maintaining the high output, easy set-up and versatility to create complex, low-resolution video systems established by the PixelArt.

Fusion 672 is distributed in the UK exclusively by White Light. “We were approached by the Illieum team, and it quickly became clear that Fusion is a fantastic product offering incredible possibilities to those working in the fields of lighting, video and the increasing cross-over between the two,” comments White Light’s Managing Director, Bryan Raven. “It is incredibly easy to set-up both physically and in terms of control, and the effects it can create are quite remarkable. We’ve already put it to use on a number of our corporate projects, where it has been very well received, and we’re delighted to add it to our sales portfolio where we hope it will find a huge audience.”

Fusion 672 is already proving hugely popular with users, a system about to go out on tour around the UK with the hit Take That musical Never Forget.

The system is on show at White Light’s base in Wimbledon, south-west London, or can easily be brought out to on-site demonstrations. Anyone interested in arranging a demonstration of Fusion 672 is invited to contact the White Light Sales team on sales@WhiteLight.Ltd.uk or 020 8254 4840.

Fusion will also be on show at the PLASA Focus Show in Leeds on April 28th and 29th, and on a forthcoming Fusion Roadshow around the UK.

Further information about Fusion 672 can be found on-line here.


Dolly Parton Saves the 9-to-5 Musical

I have to link this, because it’s fantastic.

A post over at The Light Network listed a blog post from KTLA’s Morning News about Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” musical, slated to open on Broadway in April of 2009.  Apparently the opening night of Dolly Parton’s musical had some technical difficulties, and Dolly saved the day from her seat.  From the article:

Audience members could hear construction equipment like power drills and saws at work while Dolly continued to charm the audience with a talk about the origins of the musical show; as well as introducing her ‘9 to 5’ film co-stars. As the delay continued, Parton offered to take questions from the audience; and then asked if the audience would like for her to sing another song; ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Before beginning the second number Dolly told the crowd, “Maybe I’ll wait, in case things get screwed up again and I have to fill more time.”

Read the whole article at KTLA Morning News’ blog.

“Passing Strange” and the Wall of Light

Have you heard of the new-ish Broadway musical, Passing Strange ?  I remember hearing a segment on NPR with the writer, performance artist/singer/songwriter Stew about the show, and what went into writing it.  Good stuff.

Also good stuff, Kevin Adams’ lighting design for Passing Strange with its big ol’ LED and fluorescent fixture wall.  That thing is beautiful – it’s a machination of color, intensity, and vibration that brings that show to amazing heights – in both artistry and musical longevity.  The images are stunning.

Live Design Online has a great great article about Kevin’s work on the show, the equipment he used to achieve the look, and how he approached the ideas of the wall.  From the article:

The lighting in Passing Strange shifts in timbre as well, with some of the songs lit as if in an isolated concert space, with tight pools of rock ‘n’ roll style lighting and haze provided by an MDG Atmosphere hazer, and it then goes back to a more natural look for the realistic scenes. The lighting for the band adds another layer to the palette, as well. “The musicians each have a white PAR spot and Source Four with a Coloram scroller above their heads, with all kinds of saturated colors I don’t normally use, such as unusual yellows, oranges, and electric pinks,” says Adams. At the end of the show, 30 GAM Star Strobes pop on out in the house for an explosion of light during the curtain call. “The lighting adds to the excitement of the show,” says Adams. “It doles out its strength when it needs it.”

Also, on Kevin’s portfolio site, he has an article posted about the show as well, from American Theatre.

Jonathon Larson’s RENT Closes

After 5,140 performances, 12 years, $630 Million worldwide in revenue (280 Million in US revenue), Jonathon Larson’s hit RENT is closing at the Nederlander Theatre.  Check out the article at the LA Times.  It’s a good article, and a good read.

You can also get some news and notes about Blake Burba, RENT‘s lighting designer, here.