Jackson and the production team for the 11,000-seat Muny theatre, billed as America's Oldest and Largest Outdoor Musical Theatre, were pleased to be able to light the towers properly. Actors in choreographed moves drive the six towers on stage. In previous productions, the towers—a “signature look” for the performance—were scaffolding on wheels, minimally lit.
“The truss towers are a signature [component] of â€˜Dreamgirls'. They've been around since the show was on Broadway in the early 70s,” said Jackson. “Michael Bennett choreographed the show with those moving towers in mind. I don't know exactly how they managed to deal with lighting, wires and all that on Broadway back then, but with this size stage, we knew we had to go with a wireless, battery-powered LED product or it just wasn't going to be fluid enough.”
The introduction of the battery-powered CHAUVET® DJ Freedomâ„¢ Par and CHAUVET® Professional WELLâ„¢ wash lights—both of which feature wireless DMX control—enlivened the set pieces and made what seemed impossible, possible.
“The truss towers are large pieces. Cables or anything even close to that would have just been impossible to deal with,” said Jackson. “Likewise the kind of lighting and the amount of lighting that we could have put in them, if we had done some sort of car battery and a PAR, would have been very lackluster. To have five Freedomâ„¢ Par fixtures blasting out and to have the WELLâ„¢ uplighting each truss tower is much more than we could have gotten out of anything else.”
Additionally, the fixtures' ease of use and the reliability of their wireless transmissions made a great impression on everyone involved—noteworthy for an outdoor theater that by nature provides a multitude of production challenges.
“The Freedomâ„¢ Par fixtures [gave] us the ability to transform our vision of â€˜Dreamgirls' into reality with rich, vibrant colors, all in a self-contained wireless unit,” said Robert Denton, assistant lighting designer for The Muny. “We transformed the vast stage into an intimate space filled with a brilliant array of color and power re-enforcing 1960s women music revolution.”