The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Cabot Theatre in Milwaukee
USA - Last summer, eight of ADJ’s flagship Focus Profile automated luminaires were utilised heavily by Lighting Designer Jamie Roderick for the Wisconsin premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung.
The musical was staged by Skylight Music Theatre at the Cabot Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and featured an impressive production that employed gobo projections from the Focus Profiles extensively to recreate the atmospheric interior of the famous cathedral.
Based on Victor Hugo’s Gothic novel of the same name, Dennis DeYoung wrote his musical adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the ‘90s and it debuted in Nashville at the Tennessee Performing Arts Centre’s Polk theatre in 1996. It was well received by audiences, generated positive reviews, and was set to transfer to Broadway, however illness meant that Dennis was unable to take the project further at the time.
The show was first revived in Chicago, when in 2007 it was awarded the Joseph Jefferson Award for best musical. However, Michael Unger, the Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre, has wanted to stage the show ever since a chance meeting with DeYoung outside Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre led to Michael being invited to his childhood rock hero’s home studio to be one of the first people to ever hear the entire score of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Michael finally had the opportunity to direct the show he had been “chasing for 28 years” in the summer of 2022 (having been postponed from his inaugural season as Artistic Director in 2020-21 due to the pandemic). Working alongside Dennis, he put together an extravagant production of the show staring Golden Globe and Tony award nominee Kevin Anderson; opera, pop, Broadway and jazz singer Ben Gulley; and Alanis Sophia.
Lighting equipment for the production was supplied by local vendor Above The Stage Lighting, which was founded by lighting professional Matthew DeYoung in 2008. It specialises in the rental of equipment to small-to-medium-sized theatre productions, as well as corporate and private events. The company, which already owned 10 of ADJ’s Vizi CMY300 LED-powered hybrid moving head fixtures, had been in the market for a moving head profile fixture for a couple of years.
However, since it was a specific requirement of Jamie’s design for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this production provided the catalyst for Matthew to go ahead with the investment. Together with friend and consultant Justin Litterio, another lighting pro with decades of experience, Matthew carried out research into potential fixture options and as part of this process reached out to ADJ Dealer Windy City Music in Chicago.
The Focus Profile is a feature-packed automated profile luminaire powered by a potent 400W LED light engine that generates an impressive output of 20,000 Lumens. It is the brightest and most feature-rich fixture to date in ADJ’s popular Focus Series.
“It's bright, the focus is sharp, the CMY is smooth, the animation wheel is great, the gobo textures supplied with the fixture are really good and the framing system works very well,” statess Justin. “Obviously, on any profile fixture, you have that slight focus offset between the framing shutters and gobos, there’s really nothing you can do about that as it’s purely a matter of physics. But I’ve used many of the industry’s leading profile fixtures and I have to say that the Focus Profile is on a par with, if not slightly better, than all of them in that regard. Every time we’ve put it on a show, everyone involved has loved it. It is a fixture that really does have so much to offer.”
For The Hunchback, Jamie’s lighting plot distributed the eight Focus Profile fixtures across his rig. Two were positioned Front Of House, to be used as moving specials, while the remaining fixtures were rigged above the stage, spread across the first, second and third electric. These were used extensively throughout the show, primarily to provide texture on the stage through break-up gobo projections. With plenty of haze on stage, they created the effect of sunlight streaming through stained glass windows, which was essential to the show’s aesthetic.

Latest Issue. . .