Vari-Lite and Strand Lighting Get a Spring Awakening
Lighting Designer Kevin Adams brings his critically-acclaimed lighting design to Broadway
Published Wednesday, January 31, 2007
by Bryan Matthews

On December 10, 2006, Spring Awakening opened on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.  After receiving critical acclaim as an off-Broadway smash-hit, this controversial and inspirational musical is once again achieving box office success.  Behind the lighting design of Spring Awakening is lighting designer Kevin Adams, and behind Adams is the VL1000TI™ automated luminaire, and a Strand 550I lighting control console.


“While we were moving the production from off-Broadway, I basically took the same lighting plot, and then added in the VL1000 fixtures,” said Adams .  “I really like how the tungsten source from the VL1000 casts a warm soft glow.”


Adams first used the VL1000TI luminaire on the Broadway production of Good Body starring Eve Ensler.  This production was a one-woman show with a small amount of music, and so he needed an automated light that would run silently.  The tungsten lamp source was great for her skin tone on stage, and Adams wanted to capture that same style for Spring Awakening.


Adams continued “The tungsten lamp gives Spring Awakening a soft glow, and makes it look a little different from other productions on Broadway.  Plus, the tungsten lamp source of the VL1000 blends well with the conventional fixtures in the lighting design.”


The VARI*LITE® VL1000TI™ automated luminaire combines the functionality of an ellipsoidal reflector spotlight with the versatility of an automated luminaire. Automated functions include CYM color mixing, rotating gobos, variable diffusion, and a zoom lens that ranges from 19° to 36° for normal imaging and a super zoom function that ranges to 70°.  The VL1000TI luminaire delivers 10,000 lumens with the consistent color temperature of a tungsten source, and includes an automated beam size iris.


Adams describes Spring Awakening as “two shows going on within the same production.  The first is the ‘book play’, which is set in the year 1891.  It is a classical play in all aspects with washes of general white light and very few lighting effects.  Noise levels are crucial as the production takes on a quiet, more somber feel.  I was very happy with how quiet the luminaires were.”


The second portion of Spring Awakening is a contemporary musical of rock/pop songs. 


Adams went on to state, “For this, I used a more focused and colorful lighting design, and I was thrilled with all the colors I could get out of the VL1000 fixtures.”


“In the overall lighting design, I wanted to keep a clear delineation between the two different ‘shows within the show’ at all times.  During the ‘concert’ portions of the musical, the VL1000 fixtures really pop with color and we lay the spots on pretty heavy.  All the backlight fixtures utilize the iris capabilities, and I pretty much used every capability the lights had to offer.  For the ‘book’ portions, we utilized the edge functions quite a bit to make sure we kept the light focused and detailed.”


To control the automated luminaires in the lighting design, Production Electrician Greg Husinko and Adams chose a Strand 550I console, with a Strand 520 console for backup.  Said Husinko, “I have used the 550 console in the past for control of conventional fixtures.  I knew it would be applicable for Spring Awakening, but had never used it before with moving lights.”


“The console is controlling 40 moving lights and a nice LED set-up, and that was one of the selling points,” Husinko elaborated.  “With the LED application, the 550I was the best platform because of its ability to easily run light chases.  Plus, the console displays are more conventional in appearance, such as easily being able to see the light levels.”


The complete lighting and sound package for Spring Awakening was provided by Hudson Sound and Light.  When asked about working with Adams, Tom Ferguson stated “Kevin is truly an artist.  It is one of the best lighting designs that we’ve seen in quite some time.  Kevin was great to work with, and as a designer he was very pleased with the lighting gear and therefore we are pleased as well.”


Husinko concluded, “The Strand 550I is working very well for this show.  It has performed phenomenally.”


Adams agreed, “The VL1000TI luminaire gave me everything that I needed.  It is quiet with a soft tungsten lamp source for the skin tones.  The Iris is a simple but beautiful effect, and the color range is second to none.”


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