Lighting designer Jason Lyons discusses his design for Broadway hit musical Rock Of Ages. “When they first called me about lighting a large-scale rock musical Off Broadway, I knew we were headed for an uphill battle,” admits Lyons. “The 80s were a time of excess, especially in rock music, and also the birth of video and MTV. I went back and watched a lot of those early videos, some of which were recordings of arena concerts, all with very elaborate lighting rigs, and some that were very high concept and extremely theatrical.” Lyons discussed the 80s dilemma with Tony-nominated director Kristin Hanggi and felt they needed to think the same way those groups did about their lighting.
The moving light rig is entirely Martin Professional gear, marking a departure for Lyons. “I’ve always been a little sensitive about color temperature in the past, so I’ve always leaned away from the cutting quality of the MACs, but for the rock musical, they were the perfect match and honestly won me over.” The rig includes a mixture of MAC 2000 washes, MAC 2000 Performance units, MAC 700s, and the new MAC III profiles, with the wash lights in the workhorse role. “They have such an incredible, bright beam that looks beautiful in the air and gorgeous on the dancers as both backlight and low sidelight. The MAC IIIs really cut through these perfectly and were ideal for poppy specials and stunning, striking templates.”
In addition to the automated rig, Lyons added ETC Source Fours for frontlight and LED fixtures—AC Lighting Chroma-Q™ Color Blocks and PixelRange PixelLine 1044s—and strobes (High End Systems DataFlash AF1000s and GAMProducts Star Strobes) all over the stage and the theatre. The entire rig is run on an ETC Eos console. “The choice was initially made for budgetary reasons, but I ended up being so happy with the results that we kept it that way for the Broadway move,” says Lyons, who also enjoyed his collaboration with Borovay. “His design Off Broadway had such an amazing kinetic energy that I decided to really step up our control of the cyc that surrounds the video screen,” Lyons explains. “We arranged to have the most resolution possible in the LED fixtures we were using to light the cyc, which allowed us to create amazing sweeping effects that matched and enhanced the energy of the projections.”