Blue Christmas in Lexington
USA - An accomplished painter when she isn’t busy as a LD, Denise Simpson says that she often likes to play with colours to do things a little differently when designing shows. This was evident this December when she lit The Christmas Experience, a well-orchestrated one-hour musical programme at the Lexington Baptist Church.
“Often one of the unique ways that I create looks is by slightly offsetting colours in some of my big monochromatic looks,” remarked Simpson. “I generally lean towards monochromatic looks as I am building up the end of a song, and also for those big high energy numbers. I love building bright saturated colour scenes.
“In this case, I chose my colour palettes based on how the music felt to me and how the performers and musicians presented the piece. Also, very important to this event, my palettes were chosen by working closely with the media team to compliment the video visuals they were using.”
Following this approach, Simpson, who works for ACS Sound and Lighting, called forth some deeply engaging monochromatic looks that immersed the stage, as well as its backdrop and the ceiling above it, in rich immersive palettes that included classic Christmas reds, as well as non-traditional colours like blues and purples. At other times, she also added an extra level of depth and balance to the stage by segmenting different sections with blocks of colour.
Working closely with Jacob Powers, the media and technical director at Lexington Baptist Church, Wes Howard the church’s photographer-videographer, producer Lauren Chambers, and ACS’ JK Edwards, who served as project manager and video director, Simpson achieved these multi-coloured looks with the help of 78 Chauvet Professional fixtures.
Most of these fixtures were already part of Lexington Baptist’s rig, the result of a 2020 install by ACS Sound and Lighting, which has a longstanding relationship with the church. For the 2023 Christmas Experience, however, the design team brought in four COLORado Batten 72 fixtures to use as stage right and stage life foot lighting on the thrust.
“The battens were brought in late in the process, because we wanted added color coverage,” said Simpson. “We felt that by adding these fixtures it would help bring a bit of colour and fullness to the thrust. These fixtures gave support in building drama during solos as well as adding colour and energy to the larger numbers featuring the full cast and orchestra.”
Key to the design team’s vision was the idea of tying all of the staging area, not just the thrust, into a single, all-embracive look. “It is always very important to me to tie everything together,” said Simpson. “In this case, the choir was often highlighted in the service and really needed to be well lit. By using the existing COLORdash Par-Quad 18, Ovation 910s and R2X washes I had various ways to bring colour and depth in without compromising the front lighting for the cameras.”
A total of eight COLORdash Par-Quad 18 fixtures were used in the show, along with 46 Ovation E-910FC color-mixing ellipsoidals (with HD lens tubes), 12 COLORado Solo Battens, and eight Rogue R2X Washes.
Drawing on the versatility of this rig, Simpson moved seamlessly through a series of engaging looks that matched the varied performances during the Christmas Experience.
“Everything about his was an enjoyable,” said Simpson. “It was filled with upbeat, reimagined Christmas music, as well as contemporary worship music. The skilled placement of subtle, intimate style pieces, coupled with the music really made for an engaging experience.”

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