The word comedian may be on Eddie Izzard’s passport, but his live performances sometimes have a rock and roll feel to them. For his current worldwide tour Sexie, Izzard makes an entrance that would make Mick Jagger proud.
"Eddie likes to have a rock and roll entrance,” explains Josh Monroe, lighting designer for the Sexie tour. “It's a very 'David Bowie-like' spectacular every time he enters or exits the stage. It's basically flash and trash that shows off all of the bells and whistles of the lighting fixtures. There's no high art to it, it just whips the audience into a frenzy and lets them know that Eddie is about to hit the stage."
The show opens with a 90-second sequence that combines the lighting, music and projection, leading up to Izzard's grand entrance. To accomplish the look of controlled chaos, Monroe specified the most powerful VARI*LITE® fixtures available. The lighting package for the "Sexie" tour included 30 of the Series 3000(TM) luminaires - 18 VL3000(TM) Spot luminaires and 12 VL3000(TM) Wash units. Gear for the US portion of the tour was provided by Boston-based High Output.
"He's got the best fixtures there are, and it's a great-looking rig," said Joe Haller of High Output. "We provided him the latest and greatest, and we did it very quickly. The VARI*LITE fixtures were literally on our shelves for just one day before the truck was loaded and the tour headed out."
The recently wrapped US tour was prepped in one of High Output's three production studios normally reserved for video and film work, which allowed ample room and rigging capability.
"It's definitely not your standard touring package for a stand-up comedian," Monroe said. "It's a lot of lights for a one-man show, and the VARI*LITE fixtures are the bulk of what's lighting the performance. The lighting is done in a rock and roll manner--not like a rock and roll concert, but like he's a rock and roll personality. All of the trappings of the production are part of the way Eddie presents himself to people."
Izzard is currently in his home base of England, wrapping up the tour; he recently performed a three-night stand at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne (he attended two different schools in this south coast seaside town) which was shot for an upcoming DVD.
XL Video UK supplied projection hardware for the shoot, a 26.5 ft wide by 15 ft high projection screen--16:9 ratio--which was fed by a flown pair of doubled Barco R18 projectors. Projections were effectively the set. The space was dressed with camouflage netting, but apart from that, there was nothing but Izzard and an empty stage, so video and lighting were absolutely used to create shifting and different ambiences and moods.
XL’s project manager Malcolm Mellows was approached by the show’s producer Mick Perrin of Perrin Productions, after being recommended by the DVD shoot’s lighting director Steve Nolan to supply the kit.
Perrin, projection designer Alex Saad, sound designer George Glossop, and Izzard himself all collaborated closely to create the show. Saad evolved all the video footage using a High End Catalyst digital media server, working with Dave Jackson.
The Catalyst was operated by Saad via his WholeHog 2 lighting console which also controlled the Vari*Lites. Nolan controlled all the additional audience, ambient and room lighting from an Avolites Pearl, and sound was operated by Michael Hayes.
Lighting supplier for the DVD shoot was VLPS, sound was from Capital Sound and cameras and recording equipment was by Visions.