Cosas del Amor, Enrique Iglesias' sophomore turn on the concert touring scene, is a mix of sweet romance and hard-edged bravado, a perfect blend for the sensitive yet macho Latin pop balladeer. While Enrique takes care of the onstage swagger, inspiring mostly teenage audiences to throw flowers and notes professing their love, behind-the-scenes production designer Steve Cohen and his team of collaborators can take credit for setting the mood for Enrique's magic.
Working with a smaller budget than Enrique's first tour (which he also designed), Cohen had to get crafty, collaborating with Jim Day on the set and Joel Young on the lighting design, to provide the same level of production value in smaller venues. "Enrique's last album was big, but they learned from the last time out that the Latin American market isn't always a slam dunk for Latin artists," he says. "So we had to fit this show into smaller venues and it had to be adaptable."
Drawing from what Cohen calls "the architecture of touring rock and roll," he and Day turned to trussing and soft goods to create scenic pieces that would be visually exciting and easily transportable. "We came up with a design of five finger trusses going from upstage to downstage," says Cohen. "This provided us with the same type of lighting positions we would have with straight horizontal trusses, but it gives a vertical plane that seems to be reaching out towards the audience."
The trusses also provided points to hang drapes, which became crucial backdrops for lighting looks. "With the main backdrop, one of the things I wanted to create for him was sort of a sexy boudoir environment that wrapped around this industrial trussing above his head," explains Cohen. He and Day used 3D Studio Max, a modeling and animation tool by Kinetix, to previsualize the production design which also incorporated a series of roll drops and sniffer reveals.
"This is the first time I did a production design completely on a computer," says Cohen. "Because 3D Studio has a complete lighting palette I ended up designing gobos, inputting them in the computer, and lighting the actual renderings. Then we took the input, converted it to a DXF file and it was immediately readable in AutoCAD. Basically, if we have done our math right, it directly relates within a couple of inches to actual construction guidelines." [To see the 3D Studio design renderings beside actual production shots, visit Cohen's website at www.scproductions.com.]
Another successful first on this tour was the use of Coemar's newest lighting technology, the company's carbon-fiber washlights and hard-edged units, provided by the tour's lighting supplier The Obie Company. "We went to LDI last year, shopping for new stuff because, if we can, we always try to use new equipment. It's exciting to have new tools," says associate lighting designer/director Joel Young, who also worked on Enrique's last tour. "Obie had a very competitive bid, new lights to offer, and was the vendor on Enrique's last tour, so there was a relationship already there.
"We found only a couple of problems in rehearsals, but Coemar was very helpful," Young continues. "They sent one of their designers over for the whole rehearsal period."
Beyond rehearsals, the Coemar lights have performed extremely well on the road, according to Young, and they were instrumental in giving the soft scenic elements a bit of an edge. "With the washlights particularly, the beam is so sharp--it can be very narrow like an ACL--and it's very pure white, not mushy at all," says Young. "What comes out of the fixture is very strong, so while the drapes could be soft, the lights in front of them could be very edgy."
Young also commends the new technology in regard to color. "You can take five of the washlights and light the whole drape with strong and vibrant colors," he says. "It's really the first wash fixture that I've ever used that is so pure and white that it really doesn't have a problem getting any color except for, of course, the problem they all have, which is red. There was no color we wanted to use that we couldn't get. I don't think this capability is necessarily limited to the Coemar light, I think this will be seen in the next generation of lights."
Cohen, a self-described "color Nazi," agrees about the vibrancy of the new lighting technology, and adds that the lights themselves helped dictate his palette: "A lot of it is driven by the color the lights do best. I am always looking for tones, in washlights especially, that are pure. The nature of those lights is that they are quite bright. The oranges are incredibly bright and clear, and because they perform so well in saturated colors, this show is a bit more saturated than a lot of my shows."
Young adds that he was able to cut all of the conventionals out of the truss due to the brightness of the moving lights. "The only conventionals now are used to light the drapes. The whole stage is lit exclusively using moving lights."
The lighting rig, according to Paul Medeiros, production coordinator for The Obie Company, includes: 20 Coemar HE 1200s, 40 Coemar CF 1200s, six Coemar TM Power 1.2s, 66 Morpheus ColorFaders, two Lycian Starklites, four Thomas 8-lights, ETC Sensor 48x2.4k dimmer racks, a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog II, Tomcat 20.5" medium-duty trussing, and Obie Company HD Truss. Magicraft built the scenery and Ocean State Rigging provided the gear for a flying stunt which, in larger venues, allows Enrique to take to the air and land in the audience.
Cohen stresses that the production was fully a collaborative effort and credits Young and Day as well as the rest of his crew, which includes: lighting crew chief Chuck La Reaux, moving-light technician Adam Burton, lighting technician Ben Sepeda, rigger Bill Rengstl, head carpenter Jerry Zambardino, road manager Abel Tabuyo, production manager Toni Parodi, stage manager Victor Gutierrez, assistant production manager Andres Restrepo, and production assistant Toni Sanchez.
While Cohen has moved on, designing other shows including 'N Sync's tour, Young is touring with Cosas del Amor which, after hitting the US, will be in South America and Europe until June.