Copenhagen, Denmark – When lighting designer Mikkel Bedsted was asked to light Musicalteatret’s Jack the Ripper musical at Copenhagen’s intimate, 19th century Folketeatret (People’s Theater), he knew he faced some serious lighting challenges. He found his answers in the new Vari-Lite VL2600 Profile, a versatile, feature-rich, LED stage luminaire, offering a powerful array of theater lighting solutions.
The biggest challenge for Bedsted, an experienced musical theatre lighting designer, was the limited weight loading in the 600-capacity theatre. “The Folketeatret is a small place,” he says. “The fly bars only take around 125kg, so you need to choose your fixtures very carefully.”
With such limited lighting positions, size, weight and versatility were crucial to Bedsted’s choice. “In these situations you need fixtures that are compact, not too heavy, and which can do more than one job,” he says.
Reliability was another key requirement. As the show’s designer, operator and sole lighting tech, time for re-lamping or troubleshooting would be scarce for Bedsted. And, of course, he needed performance quality - a luminaire with excellent output and optics, and features designed with theater lighting in mind.
Through local supplier Live Company, Bedsted sourced 14 of the compact VL2600 Profiles. Using these fixtures for the first time, he positioned five each on the front-stage and upstage overhead lighting bars, plus four in front-light positions. Thanks to the luminaire’s 19,000 lumen output, Bedsted had the punch he required, even allowing for an effective stage wash with the wide zoom.
“With its power and zoom range, I can use the VL2600 Profile as a wash light, as a profile and as a spot,” he says. “The big feature for me is to get that much output from such a relatively small light. The zoom range allows me to achieve transitions from one scene to another without taking out gobos; I just make a slight change in the focus, and still have enough light.”
He adds, “The VL2600 is my workhorse fixture on this show. They are the only top-lights. It was a real challenge to not bring wash lights.”
With his main challenges met, Bedsted could enjoy the VL2600’s impressively engineered, theater-friendly features. These included the fixture’s color temperature control via the CTO wheel. “The CTO wheel is really, really nice to have,” he says. “I don’t think I could have lit this show without having the CTO wheel. I use it a lot in transitions of time and place. The CTO helps achieve the looks of daytime light, or lamp-light. I can just pull out this new color - it’s great.”
Bedsted also makes frequent use of the VL2600 Profile’s internal framing shutters and integrated top-hat mechanism to shape and guide the light, keeping the attention firmly on the action – essential in a busy production with up to 48 performers entering and exiting the stage.
“Vari-Lite have always been famous for their shuttering modules,” he says. “With the front row of VL2600s I use the framing a lot. Sometimes we have actors walking out in the auditorium, and I use the framing to cut out stage areas and keep the focus. With the upstage row, I use the shutters at times to avoid the backdrop and curtains.”
Commenting on the VL2600’s light quality, he says, “I haven’t come across any faults, or thought at any time that it couldn’t do the job. I can achieve the colors that I want and the skin tones that I want. In our cast, we have lighter and darker tones of skin, and many different costumes, but the VL2600 is always up to the job. The quality is great.”
Bedsted is delighted by the VL2600’s enabling performance. Using relatively few fixtures, his lighting design succeeded in creating a close, atmospheric feel, with convincing interiors and smooth transitions, defining time and place while powerfully enhancing the show’s dark themes.
He concludes, “Things are just that bit better in the Vari-Lite, to be honest. I’ve got bigger optics, a bigger lens, the CTO wheel, the framing shutters, and the internal top-hat.
“The details in the Vari-Lite make it a better choice for theatre. I will definitely use them again.”