Blackburn, UK, based lighting rental company HSL is supplying lighting equipment and crew to Production North for the first arena tour by the UK's most popular boyband, JLS, with lighting designed by Dave Lee and a lively, entertaining show created by artistic director Beth Honan.
HSL's project manager is Mike Oates, and this follows on from their work on the band's first theatre tour earlier in the year. He says, "It's great to be out with JLS again. Production North has really upped the production values and it's good to see the band develop and become such a success".
Lighting equipment includes 160 moving lights - a mixture of Vari*Lites and Robes - including the first of the new Robe LEDWash 600 fixtures, one of many recent new purchases by HSL. The moving lights are distributed over a series of semi-circular trusses above and to the sides of the stage, and across the stage floor and set which was designed by Peter Barnes.
Lee's lighting design is an all-action montage of colour, movement, drama and spectacle to match the hi octane show, featuring some show-stopping gags like a flying car at the top of the show, a moving catwalk that comes down over the audience, plus a giant dancing robot (Titan), all themed on classic cinematic experiences.
Central to the look of the show is an enormous Stealth screen upstage, 80 ft wide by 30 deep, slightly curved. Video is an integral part of the show and plays on the screen 95% of the time, and one of the challenges of the lighting design was to make it work, leaving the screen area clean from beams, yet creating all the suspense and visual energy required for the style and pace of the show.
Fixtures were chosen and placed so they could be used hard and dynamically, with each one having to produce multiple effects.
The Vari*Lite count is 18 x VL3500 Washes, 26 x VL3000 Spots, which are positioned "Everywhere I could get them" explains Lee, along with 30 Robe ColorBeam 700E ATs, 20 of which are in the overhead rig and 10 lined up on the onstage walkway for mega-bright, low level back beam effects.
There are also 22 Robe ColorWash 2500E ATs, 16 on the side trusses and 6 on a mini front truss rigged high up off the car tracking truss, and 8 Robe ROBIN 300 Beams along the downstage edge of the stage for fillers.
Twenty of the 40 LEDWash 600s are used on ladder trusses flanking each side of the screen for a nice framing effect, and the other 20 are rigged below the car tracking truss and used to highlight the 120ft long catwalk when it is flown in. For this task, Lee needed a fixture that was small, powerful and light weight, as the tracking truss was already heavily loaded with the car, associated rigging and all the tracking kit, so the LEDWash 600 was ideal.
Twenty-two Martin Professional Atomic Colours are scattered around the rig and on the deck, with 20 i-Pix Satellites used as truss toners.
A wall of 24 Jarags is revealed as an extreme white-out effect for the entrance and exit of Titan the Robot.
Upstage on the floor, for massive split-beam effects, are 4 x Falcon 3K Flowers, joined by 4 Falcon Beam 3Ks used for searchlight effects, one positioned under each PA hang and the other two in the FOH enclosure.
Another new HSL purchase for this tour was the 4 Robert Juliat 4K Lancelot FOH follow spots (a total of 12 are now in hire stock) and there are also 4 x 2.5K RJ Ivanhoe truss spots.
Lee controls all the lighting from a WholeHog III console.
He works closely with his "Fantastic" HSL crew of Johnny Harper, Ian Stevens, Tom Wright and Charlotte Stevens, and adds that "as always" the service and support from HSL has been "Faultless".
Before production rehearsals at LiteStructures in Wakefield, Lee spent a week in the WYSIWYG studio at HSL pre-programming and visualising the show, and then a further week helping prep the rig there. With only 3 days of production rehearsals and then straight in to the first gig in Aberdeen, he wanted to be as ahead-of-the-game as possible, as it's a complex show with a lot of cues requiring maximum attention to detail.
At production rehearsals he worked closely with Beth Honan who had some very clear ideas about how different songs should look and feel lighting wise, specially in terms of colour. By the time they had the show in shape, he was using most features on most of the fixtures, even the 'gobo-shake' function on the Robe ColorBeam 700s which works brilliantly during the chorus of 'Beat Again'!
This current JLS tour is being production managed by Karen Ringland for Production North, and runs until the end of January 2011. Sound is being supplied by Wigwam, Rigging and Automation by Over the Top and video by XL Video, with Pyro Junkies doing the flame system and confetti.
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