Chauvet hits Broadway with Rocktopia
Monday, 16 April 2018
rocktopiakimberly-nichole-and-pat-monahancredit-matthew-murphyThe theatre’s distinctive tradition continued when it hosted a six-week run of Rocktopia
USA - Unlike all but a handful of other venues in Manhattan’s famed theatre district, the Broadway Theatre is actually located on Broadway. However, this is far from the only thing that stands out about this 1,760-seat theatre.
Throughout its 94-year history, it has housed trailblazing productions, including the 1943 premiere of Oscar Hammerstein’s Carmen Jones, one of the first musicals to feature an all African-American cast. Years earlier, before it was dedicated exclusively to theatre, it was the site of the first showing of Walt Disney’s cartoon film Steamboat Willie, which introduced the world to Mickey Mouse.
The theatre’s distinctive tradition continued recently, when it hosted a six-week run of Rocktopia, a concert that explores new artistic dimensions by weaving rock and classical music together and wrapping them around a free-flowing story that eschews traditional notions about plot and characters as it examines the phases of life.
Providing richly textured visuals to support this ambitious narrative, and punctuate its musical mix, was a Michael Stiller-designed lightshow that featured a collection of Chauvet Professional Rogue fixtures and a video array made up of Chauvet Professional PVP S5 LED tiles, all supplied by BML-Blackbird.
For Stiller, the show at the Broadway Theatre represented an opportunity to expand on designs he had done earlier for Rocktopia’s acclaimed PBS special, filmed at the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, and on his ongoing work for its US tours.
“This limited run on Broadway gives us the chance to flesh out our tour design and finesse things in a way that is not possible when you’re hitting a different house every day,” says Stiller. “We expanded what was mostly a scenographic lighting plot for our tour to include dedicated keys, backlights and specials for the singers, band, 20-piece orchestra, and 30-member choir in the Broadway production.”
Stiller positioned five Rogue RH1 Hybrid fixture on the theatre’s furthest upstage electric to provide “the hottest and most defined of the beam effects”. He also had 18 Rogue R2 Wash units flown in a grid configuration to use as a base for aerial effects and washes on the 44’ wide by 40’ deep stage. Another 22 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures were arranged on the two most upstage trusses for backlighting. To add extra sparkle during rock numbers, Stiller relied on four Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures positioned two apiece on the stage right and stage left decks.
“Rocktopia is really a concert experience, and not a traditional theatrical production,” says Stiller. “The versatility we got from the Rogues was invaluable, since we used them for creating everything from theatrical stage washing to concert-style eye candy.”
(Jim Evans)

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