HSLis supplying lighting equipment for the popular Bill Kenwright production of This Is Elvis, currently touring the UK and Ireland. Lighting has been designed by Ben P. Cracknell and is being operated on the tour by Darran Curtis. This Is Elvis is project managed for HSL by Mike Oates.
The first half of This Is Elvis is based on the lead up to a seminal TV show, The 68’ Comeback Special, an event that re-established Elvis’s career and drew phenomenal ratings. The second half is the concert itself, featuring Elvis’s greatest hits superbly replicated by actor Simon Bowman.
With a relatively Spartan stage look and minimal props, the lighting is key to recreate various scenes and atmospheres. Cracknall tried to give authentically represent the time period, mimicking the effect of the more limited stage technology of the 1960s–particularly in the first half–while simultaneously making the show interesting for a 21st century accidence.
Robe ColorSpot and ColorWash 1200 Ats–nine of each type were the primary moving light sources overhead–are used for general and specific gobo washes in act one and for stage effects and beam patterns in act two.
There are 10 Martin MAC 600s for general stage color washes, which are used for rock-n-roll style bumps and accents in the second half. The intelligent lighting cues were carefully built so as not to visibly move too much during act two, again to retain a period feel.
Six Vari-Lite 1000s provide cross stage washes, hung on drop bars 10’ off the ground at the sides. These are particularly useful for rear-lighting the backup singers and band. The drop bars replace the need for a large amount of boom lamps in the wings. Their tungsten lightsource is very usable in the first act.
One of the reasons a comprehensive moving light rig was specified was to limit the amount of time that focusing sessions would take onstage. This can be done remotely, leaving the rest of the generic fixtures to be focused from FOH and the stage clear for others to work. This was necessary because the tight load-in at each venue.
In addition to the generic FOH spec that’s sent out to each theatre, the production is carrying a number of specials. These include four ETC Source Fours® with 36º lenses and scrollers; three Source Fours with custom gobos rigged onto the circle rails, projecting onto the front tabs; three Atomic strobes for the concert, two 4-lite Moles; 10 JTE PixelLine 1044 LED battens washing the cyc; and six 20-cell MR-16 battens. Two classic VSFX glass animation discs, which are fitted onto Source Four light sources, are used for cloud projections in the first act.
The plain cyc of the first act, is replaced in the second with an Elvis bulb-cloth backdrop that drops in, with “Elvis” emblazoned on it four times in P-lights. These are transformed on the fly floor, and nine circuits fed from the cloth into the dimmers. The lighting for the Vegas Hotel sign drop during the first act is also fed into the dimmers and controlled by Curtis using a Wholehog 2.
Dimming is by an Avolites ART2000 48-way, with an ART2000 48-way switch rack dealing with all the moving light power distribution, plus the hazer and fans.
Curtis comments, “The service from HSL has been absolutely excellent and the kit is all in top condition. These are two essential elements for keeping a fast-moving show like this on the road.”