Jumping from a successful Off Broadway run to its current home at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway, Rock Of Ages stars American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis, who earned one of the five Tony nominations garnered by this musical reincarnation of 80s rock from the likes of Poison, Styx, and Journey. Two of the other nominations went to the design team—costume designer Gregory Gale and sound designer Peter Hylenski—which also includes set designer Beowulf Boritt, lighting designer Jason Lyons, and projection designer Zachary Borovay.
Video Tells The Story
“Beowulf Boritt’s set for Rock of Ages is deceptively simple,” says Borovay, who notes that, at first glance, the set looks like the interior of a seedy LA rock club, but it also does tricks, with walls turning inside out to reveal other locations and other parts of the club. “Behind the band platform, there is an LED video wall—15 2'x2' Lighthouse R16 video panels with Dataton Watchout v.4 used for media playback with two Medialon Show Control PCs, main and backup—that, at times, helps provide location and tell the story in the many fantasy moments of the show,” Borovay adds. “Combining this video wall with creative staging and lighting, we are able to bring the audience to many other locations, both real and imagined, throughout the show.” The video gear was supplied by PRG Video, except the LED panels, supplied by Pete’s Big TVs.
“I was hired to design the show two weeks before the first preview Off Broadway,” recalls Borovay. This timeframe meant he had to develop the content very, very quickly, opting for Watchout for playback. “I have been working with Watchout since its inception, so at this point, I know it like the back of my hand,” he points out. “It is my go-to media server, especially if I need to work quickly. Since the video screen is part of the scenery as well as a storytelling device, there is content on the screen 100% of the time throughout the show.”
As for the content, he says, “The images for Rock of Ages come from just about everywhere you can imagine. There are some photos in there of LA that I have taken over the years. There are some bits and pieces of stock footage.” The images were created using Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro), Apple Final Cut Pro, and Motion. The prerecorded video elements were shot with a Canon XL-1, while a Panasonic WV-CP480 CCTV with 5mm to 40mm lens is used on stage for the scene where club owner Dennis tries to convince rock star Stacee Jaxx to play his farewell show at his club.
“They are on the phone—Dennis in the club and Stacee in his dressing room via video,” Borovay explains. “Obviously, I tried to incorporate a lot of 80s imagery to help give time and place to the story. But I also tried to put a lot of humor into the video. I didn’t want it to just be scenic or cerebral. There is a lot of obvious humor, but there are also quite a few Easter Eggs—little jokes and multilayered jokes that you’ll notice if you watch the show multiple times,” he says.
Lighting designer Jason Lyons and Borovay worked closely to give the show both a theatrical and a rock concert feel. “Jason and I put a lot of thought into our color choices,” Borovay says. “It was clear that we both needed to dip into the bright neon colors of the fashions of the 80s.” The deceptively versatile set also allowed the designers to use natural colors to help push the story along in terms of time of day or interior/exterior locations. “We are able to take this single bar set and turn it into many locations in LA,” adds Borovay. “Jason and I also were able to blend our palettes together to turn many of the musical numbers into mini rock concerts. Lots of haze, lasers, and fun moving light chases combine with colorful animated and pulsating video to give a concert experience within the theatrical context. When you have a band as good as the ROA band, it is easy to lose yourself in the music.”
In terms of collaboration, the LD and projection designer have known each other for a few years, although Rock of Ages marks their first joint effort. “The beautiful thing was that we just jumped in and went at it. We had a constant dialogue about what we thought about what we were doing, and there were never any egos, as if we were co-designing the show,” says Borovay. “And I think we were both on the same page regarding the humor. We both knew that if we could crack the other up with a cue, then it was a keeper!”
15 Lighthouse R16 LED video panels
4 Watchout PC with V4 Software
- 2 Display PCs with Osprey 210 Video Capture Card – Main / Backup
- 2 Production PCs – Main / Backup
2 Medialon Show Control PCs – Main / Backup
1 Raritan Paragon II KVM Switch with 2 User Stations
1 Gefen 4x1 DVI KVM Switch
2 Gefen DVI Detective
1 Doug Fleenor Design Two Channel DMX512 Relay Pack
1 Panasonic WV-CP480 CCTV Camera w/ 5-40 mm Lens
1 Video Tek VDA16 Composite Video Distribution Amp
2 Viewsonic VG2021M 20” LCD Monitor
1 Gigabit Ethernet Switch , 16 port
Projection Credits for the Broadway Production
Projection Designer: Zachary Borovay
Associate Projection Designer: Austin Switser
Assistant Projection Designer: Daniel Brodie
Medialon Programmer/Additional Watchout Programming: Paul Vershbow