By the time Tina Turner's magnificent legs carried her to New York's Radio City Music Hall for six shows in July, her Wildest Dreams tour had touched down 230 times and was in its final month of performances. Yet lighting director Mac Mosier said he had yet to tire of running the show. "Even though we haven't changed the set list since we started, Tina has so much energy it's never boring," Mosier says. "Plus, she really likes to see the audience, so you have to stay on your toes in case she decides to call out for that."
That LD LeRoy Bennett and set designer Mark Fisher designed the show in tandem is immediately evident from the first look at the intricate set and the fully integrated lighting system. A backdrop of giant eyelids fills the space between the stage and lighting grid. On each side of the stage are six curved aluminum standards with 2'-diameter cup-shaped objects on top. Nicknamed "the hairdryers," Bennett sketched them and Fisher fleshed them out to fit in with the rest of the set. Each unit houses an LSD BOB (bucket of bulbs) light, which the company custom-made for Bennett several years ago.
Pods in the lighting rig perpetuate the cup theme, where the main top lighting units are housed in rounded silver capsules. Light & Sound Design served as the tour's main lighting contractor; for the US leg, the crew included lighting crew chief Darren Hodge, and lighting technicians Thom Horton, Charles Cochran, Brad Cardinal, and Leslie Holmes. Lighting equipment included 42 Icons(TM), 28 Icon WashLights(TM), eight BOB lights, 10 eight-light Molefays, twenty 4-light Molefays, nineteen 1.2k profile spots, six snubby PAR-64s, 12 Diversitronics 3,000W strobes, six 1.2k HMI Lycian Starklight followspots, six ColorMags(R), 22 MiniMole Mags, six MoleMags, two Reel EFX DF-50 crackers, two High End Systems F-100 foggers, one Icon Console(TM), and two ColorMag desks. In production rehearsals, Gary Westcott programmed the show with Mosier.
Tait Towers in the US and Brilliant Stages in the UK built the set, but Tait handled most of the elements, including the dominant iris, a complex piece of machinery engineered by Michael Tait. For the James Bond theme song "Goldeneye," Turner rises from behind the iris as it opens, then makes a spectacular entrance akin to the opening credits of a Bond film. Of course, the iris accounts for more than just this one effect, especially since a Jumbotron screen lies behind it.
Video director Christine Strand designed images to serve as more than just live image enlargement; she wove in a variety that also blends in with the set and the lighting. Nocturne Video provided all the cameras, switching equipment, and the Hughes projectors; Screenco in the UK supplied the Jumbotron. Assistant director Joshua Adams helped Strand with the assortment of images which included live effects as well as clips from Goldeneye and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and shots of onstage action.
The Jumbotron can be framed in a variety of ways, which depends on whether the iris is split or closed--and whether the blades are open, half-shut, or shut tight. When the blades are half-shut they actually form a jagged edge, like fingers jutting into the screen. Bennett's design pays close attention to layering lighting textures on the mechanism as it changes throughout the show. "It's a beautiful set," Bennett concludes. "We strived to create the best balance between lighting and the set that will flatter Tina."