Colour Sound Experiment Makin' Great Steps Forward

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Harlow, Essex, UK based performing arts school Makin' Steps likes to pull out all the stops for its end of year show – traditionally staged at Harlow Leisure Centre - and ensure its students get to perform accompanied by proper X-Factor technical production values.

This year, they asked London based lighting and visuals rental company Colour Sound Experiment (CSE) to provide lighting, trussing, rigging, power distribution and crew. The design and specification for the kit was produced by Makin' Steps' founder and creative director Scott Simpson, and his lighting designer Mike Penketh.

This year's show, entitled “5212” covered the six decades of popular music since the Queen's coronation in 1952.

It was the first time CSE has worked with Makin' Steps, and CSE's Haydn Cruickshank comments, "I was totally impressed not just with the level of excellence of the show, but the whole attitude to the production and ensuring there was a great backdrop to the performance. We were really pleased to be involved with Scott and his team. It was great to share their enthusiasm".

The 150 cast were backed by a 7 piece professional sessions band and performed a marathon total of 153 songs from the requisite decades, all choreographed by Simpson.

Simpson designed the double decked 72 ft wide stage set, and explains, "When it came to lighting it, it was really important to get the right blend of razzmatazz, drama and a real life televisual look and feel. CSE really helped us achieve a great show for our budget and timescale.”

He added that they also really benefitted from one company supplying such a comprehensive service – complete with transport. “Colour Sound provided a real 'single source' solution” he confirms, which "Really reduced the hassle".

The moving lights included 20 x GLP Impression Zoom 120 RZ LED wash fixtures, 20 GLP Spot One LED spots and 10 Robe ColorWash 700E ATs.

These were joined by a selection of generics including ETC Source Four profiles, PARs, 500 Watt floods and Source Four PARnels, and the trussing was toned with 30 i-Pix Satellites.

A set of Pulsar Chroma panels were used to create a snazzy light wall at the back of the 1970s set.

It was vital that the rig was flexible and dynamic enough to be able to deal with the sheer volume of musical numbers and the diversity of genres covered - and that was among the largest challenges of the event.

In addition to the lighting trusses, CSE supplied ground support systems for two left and right video screens. Upstage, they built a goal post structure with an upper tier for the band.

The show ran for four days with completely sold out performances, allowing over 2000 people to enjoy the efforts and entertainment value.

Makin' Steps' annual shows have been gradually building into ever larger spectacles since 1998, each year getting more creatively and technically ambitious.

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