Over 50 Robe 700 Series moving lights have been specified for the new Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City Casino in Johannesburg, South Africa by Denis “Hutch” Hutchinson. The 1,100-seat Lyric Theatre is part of the new 66 million ZAR casino complex. Hutchinson was asked onboard as lighting consultant by the theatre’s management team headed by Richard Loring, and he’s also LD for the first production to be staged there, a run of the smash hit musical, Hairspray.

The 24 Robe ColorWash 700E ATs, 24 ColorSpot 700E ATs and 6 ColorWash 750AT Tungsten units were supplied by Robe’s highly proactive South African distributor DWR Distribution.

Robe was selected following a shoot-out between competitive brands and because of the superlative back-up and service offered by DWR. Hutchinson adds that they were also “Highly competitively priced, in addition to which, the 700 Series offered the best value-for-money option.”

Hutchinson first used the 700 Series and the 750Ts on Soweto Story and was very impressed with the light output, which enabled him to wash a large stage with just 8 ColorWash 700E ATs and to use saturated colors. The ColorWash 750AT Tungstens he used primarily as “specials” on spot focus and also incorporated into the general stage washes.

Having previously worked mainly with 575-watt washes from other manufacturers, he was particularly pleased with the zoom function on Robe’s 700 Series. “It’s so much better than having to rely on diffusers to control beam size,” he says, adding, “Variable CTO is a bonus too.”

The Lyric has a standard grid with 42 counterweighted fly-sets, and lamps can be hung as required for each production.

Hairspray is set in 1962, well before moving lights, so in keeping with the period feel, the fixtures are rarely seen to move, and they mimic the effects that would have been available at the time, including color wheels and gobos. The beauty of having a moving light rig available to light such a production, he explains, is that “a few units can replace many,” saving dramatically on rigging time and power consumption.

The Robe ColorWash 750AT Tungsten is currently among Hutchinson’s favorite fixtures. “They give a brilliant shaft which is great for specials, especially because the tungsten source is so much more flattering to skin tones than any current discharge source.” He’s also used them for proscenium boom position cross washing and has been pleased with the power and results.

The Lyric’s Robes have been very reliable. The build ran slightly behind schedule, but the opening date remained fixed, so they found themselves installing the lights while it was still a building site, full of cement dust and all the other related detritus. “When we blew all the fixtures out just before the opening, we were very impressed with how well the filters had worked in keeping the dust out.”