Popular Christian rock group The Newsboys recently shot a television special during a sold-out concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Jeff Ravitz, partner of Visual Terrain, created the lighting for the TV special. Conceived as a launch for the band's new album, Thrive, which is topping the Christian charts, the performance was held in the Hall of Fame's main lobby with the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
"The Hall of Fame's lobby is not a standard performance space," Ravitz commented. "The technical challenges were many. The fact that the building is a working museum every day requires that the setup of equipment for any kind of show be restricted to nighttime hours. A minimum amount of work can be accomplished while the building is open to the public, but safety considerations and avoiding noisy distractions are of paramount importance."
In addition, the lobby area is not a theatre or arena with typical overhead lighting positions. There is a temporary stage and small freestanding lighting system that resides in the space semi-permanently to accommodate an ongoing concert schedule. Any supplementary lighting equipment must be ground-supported or attached to brackets over the handrails that run along the museum walkways crisscrossing above the stage area. This makes for an interesting asymmetrical configuration. If a show has the budget (which this one did not), trussing can be rigged from the high steel many stories above the lobby floor.
Vincent Lighting Systems of Cleveland was called in to provide Vari*Lite® VL5™ automated wash luminaires, VL2202™ automated spot luminaires for gobo projection and effects, ETC Source Four PARs for audience and architectural coverage, and Source Four ellipsoidals as key lights. The control consoles were a Vari*Lite mini-Artisan® for automated lighting and a Strand 520i for conventional fixtures.
Vincent created four front-of house positions with 24' of 12" box truss strapped vertically to lobby columns throughout the space. These helped cover a thrust stage positioned deeper into the audience and connected to the mainstage by a 16' runway. Two Lycian SuperStar followspots were elevated on a scissor lift for FOH coverage.
The show was directed by Mike Drumm of Music Link Productions and produced by E. Curtis Hanna of the Total Living Network (TLN) of Chicago. The broadcast, titled Thrive: Live, will air April 20 at 9pm CST on PAX-TV. This is the first prime time concert special for a Christian rock band on a national network of this size. It will be followed up by a DVD/VHS release on June 18.