Lighting legend Richard Pilbrow was kind enough to invite me to the first dress tech for A Tale of Two Cities, the new musical opening next month on Broadway. His hook was he wanted me to see "the future of lighting control." How could I say no to that?
Over lunch with Richard, associate designer Michael Gottlieb, and programmer Rob Bell (moonlighting from his gig as product manager with Horizon Control), the trio explained that Tale is the first Broadway production to integrate Strand Lighting's Light Palette VL (with Universal Attribute Control) with Cast Lighting's WYSIWYG and West Side Systems' Virtual Magic Sheet. The result, the designers say, makes for a more dynamic, intuitive and designer-friendly graphic representation of the output and orientation of the lighting rig. Richard personally configured a video display to indicate, graphically, and in real time, levels and positions of lights. He cued the show (with over 1,300 control channels) without any other display from the lighting console.
I got to watch a bit of it at the first dress last week at the Hirschfeld. Well, a tiny bit anyway; the proceedings got something of a late start, as first dress tends to do. The setup is really quite something; Pilbrow can simply look at his computer screen and see exactly what happening with any individual unit on the rig at any given time.
Look to see more about this interesting new control concept in an upcoming issue of Live Design. In the meantime, here's a quick breakdown of the entire lighting crew on the show as well as the rest of the design tem:
Lighting Designer: Richard Pilbrow
Associate Lighting Designer: Michael Gottlieb
Lighting Programmer: Robert Bell
Assistant Lighting Designers: Kathleen Dobbins, Graham Kindred
Production Electrician: Michael Ward
Assistant Electrician: Paul Ker
Followspot Operators: John Blixt, Thomas Burke, Bob Miller
House Electrician: Michele Gutierrez
Director: Warren Carlyle
Scenic Designer: Tony Walton
Costume Designer: David Zinn
Sound Designers:Carl Casella and Domonic Sack
Special Effects: Greg Meeh
Hair Design: Tom Watson