While it may not have the media recognition of Miss America or Miss Universe, the Miss Chinese Beauty Pageant is a global event that sparks plenty of interest and competition. This year’s finals, which took place last August, were held in New York at Manhattan Center Studios. The event was lit by Craig Caserta, an LD with considerable experience in live special events. Working with a mixed rig of automated units, he provided this one-of-a-kind pageant with a suitably glamorous and colorful look.

Because the event’s producers and much of the crew were Chinese and had little command of English, Caserta worked with LD Billy Wong on the project. Wong, head of the lighting department at the Manhattan Center, was able to communicate with the producers and set up the original light plot. After that, Caserta took over, working out lighting concepts, cues, and operating the show.

The light plot consisted of 10 Vari*Lite® VL2000™ Spot units and four VL2000 Wash units, plus six Cyberlights® and eight Studio Beams™ from High End Systems, six ETC Source Four PARs outfitted with Wybron Coloram II scrollers, 48 PAR-64s, and 10 5kW units, all run by a Wholehog console from Flying Pig Systems.

"I used the Vari*Lite units mostly for aerial effects," Caserta says. "I was very impressed by the speed of the fixtures and, of course, the color systems. The Studio Beams were used to light up certain set pieces; they provided uplight on the columns. The Cyberlights were placed downstage to light up the stairway and to provide frontlight on the set. I also had four of the hard-edge Vari*Lite units lighting the fabric." The 5kW units were there for a specific purpose, as well. The event was recorded for a DVD release scheduled for April. "They provided video white light," Caserta says.

This is not Caserta’s first time out with the Miss Chinese pageant. Last year he lit the semifinals in Manhattan and the final in Atlantic City. There may be more such events in his future but, for now, having completed a number of live music shows for the holiday season and a gig for Microsoft in Chicago, he is concentrating on the BMW auto show coming up later this month.

Photos: Craig Caserta