Your client wants to go out for a one-off concert event. It makes sense to use last year's set for financial reasons but you need to spice it up a bit. What do you do? If you're designer Warwick Price and your client happens to be Luther Vandross, you look for just the right element to set off the show. How about a little water, a little fog, and some Plexiglas® truss? That's exactly what Price did for Vandross' recent four-night set in February at Radio City Music Hall.
Price, of Las Vegas-based Cue2Cue, who has been designing Vandross' shows for more than five years, likes to build on the base set that he designed for recent tours. “Slowly, over time, I add pieces,” says Price. “It's an evolving thing.” Vandross has four backup singers that Price placed on a platform upstage left. He wanted to add some visual excitement behind them and to highlight the performers as well. The designer thought that a water effect would be just the ticket; he had run across Total Structures' award-winning New Wave truss at LDI and wanted to use it in his design. As its name suggests, New Wave truss is the next generation in trussing. It's a series of trussing consisting of a 6" box design and has introduced new materials and concepts to truss design. New Wave truss is available in three versions: A-wave, which uses traditional aluminum chords; C-wave, which combines aluminum extruded plate technology with carbon fiber chords; and P-wave, made entirely from Plexiglas acrylic. Price chose the P-wave, the most decorative of the series. P-wave really comes into its own when lit; the edges of the Plexi capture the light and the truss glows with the color it is bathed in.
Price spoke with Ian Coles at Total Structures and had the company fabricate a back wall with a set of five curved Plexiglas panels, which would allow water to cascade down the front. Between each panel and on the ends, Price specified the Plexiglas P-Wave truss. At Cole's suggestion, they ran 3" clear Plexi tubes to conduct fog up through the trussing. The Los Angeles-based company Clockworks added in the water piping system. On-site, James Beardmore, who handles special effects, modified the tops of the tubes, blocking some of the fog which, since it was chilled, would cascade down the exterior of the wall. A LeMaitre G300 fog machine running through LeMaitre's Low Smoke Converter produced the chilled fog.
Price added some etched waves on the Plexiglas wall to give some visual punch when the water was not running. “There were no sound issues with it,” says Price. “All the water is contained, so there is no water on the Marley floor or the singers, who are wearing very expensive dresses.” Price used LSD Icon® luminaires hung above from the rear as well as on the floor to backlight it plus MR-16 striplights from the front floor. “Luther loved it just as a set piece without the water,” says Price. “We use it as a feature in four songs and through one entire song during the encore. It will tour as well as being great for one-off shows and ballroom events.”
Price also has some other clever uses for gear. At the upper rear portion of his rig he hung LSD hexapods, mounted on an angle. “They were designed to hold 12 PAR cans. They haven't had 12 PAR cans in them for a long time,” laughs Price. He added six LSD wash lights inside each one for a unique look. “I realized that it was pretty damn quick to set up, and not that involved.” He also likes Coemar Super Cycs, which he uses to light a large rear drape of white Trevira. “I was very impressed with the Super Cycs on the slit drape. Not only do they cover the drape, but also I tip them forward for backlight with a unique rectangular look. They were no trouble, except that you cannot get a good green, but that's okay; they do a great red and blue.” In addition to this gear, Price used High End Systems Studio Spots® and Studio Colors®, along with 10 Lycian followspots — six 3kW units from the front of house, one for each singer and two for Vandross, and four 1,200W units from the truss to highlight Vandross. Light and Sound Design supplied the lighting gear.
Price not only designs his shows but he also programs the Icon Console™ and runs it for the show as well. “Luther is really comfortable with me at the helm,” says Price. “His effort keeps you on your toes. Everything starts from Luther, who gives 150%. I have a great crew, the nucleus of which stays together. It is a nice bunch of people, very talented, and they love working for Luther.” The lighting crew includes crew chief Tim Schiavone, head moving light technician Ryan Cox, moving light technician Elizabeth Paige Turner, and dimmer technician Chad Smith. Also aiding Price are production manager Joe Lennane, rigger Bobby Allen, and carpenters Scott Waller and Kevin Brown.