New York City, USA – Tasked with designing the lighting for New Group’s off-Broadway musical production of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Tony Award-winning lighting designer Jeff Croiter chose the LED-based VL2600 Profile fixture from Vari-Lite to help meet the show’s demanding lighting requirements.
The production, based on the Oscar-nominated 1969 film, opened in January at the Pershing Square Signature Center on West 42nd Street. Music was by Duncan Sheik, and the show was directed by Scott Elliott.
“The show is a musical with several scenes, set in multiple locations, performed on a unit set with furniture that never leaves the stage – it’s just reconfigured during transitions,” Croiter explains. “And with an onstage band that was at points part of the scene and at other points meant to disappear, the lighting had to do a lot of the visual storytelling.”
Within these limitations, Croiter’s challenge was to use lighting to direct the audience’s attention, assist their understanding of place, and heighten dramatic moment or enhance musically abstract or realistic scenes as necessary.
“The lighting had to be versatile,” says Croiter, “dynamic and exciting at certain points and subtle and atmospheric at others.”
To provide that versatility, the fixture would need to be well-equipped. Croiter explains, “We needed a bright fixture, with shutters, the ability to match tungsten color temperature, plus a good color range, several gobo options, a prism and a wide zoom. And it needed to be relatively quiet.”
Although aware of the VL2600 Profile, Croiter had not had an opportunity to use them in one of his designs until now. “The VL2600 Profile has all the features we felt we needed,” he says, “and we wanted to use an LED fixture because the lights were hung above the band, so maintenance would have been tricky. And since we had tech time and support, I liked the idea of using something I hadn’t used previously.”
Positioned upstage, the VL2600 Profiles delivered the performance that Croiter was looking for, meeting a wide range of lighting tasks. “We used them for backlight washes and specials, for full stage texture, diagonal washes, area light, scenery light, shafts of light through haze in club scenes, motion on the floor during transitions and for certain songs, and of course, color,” he says.
“The VL2600 Profile’s zoom range was impressive, which was very important to me for this show because we wanted a single-source, diagonal backlight. And it was still bright at wide zoom - it’s one of my favorite aspects of the fixture. Also, the prism and rotating gobos were great for adding motion and movement to scenes.”
At the same time, the fixture’s four-blade framing system was another key advantage to Croiter. “Shutters were a must,” he says, “because we had to control and shape the light. It worked really well.”
Croiter concludes, “From the start of my career I’ve been a fan of Vari-Lite equipment and was excited for the opportunity to use the VL2600. It surpassed my expectations and I look forward to using them again.”