Great theatrical works never seem to age, but the same cannot be said of even the finest theatres. This is why The Muny, the oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre in the United States, elected to begin its “second hundred years” with a new stage system that, in addition to the IP rated LED lighting, features one turntable, three tracks, five lifts for moving sets and actors, LED screens, and a protected orchestra pit.
Playing a key role in the new lighting rig are over 700 CHAUVET Professional fixtures supplied and installed by Bandit Lites. Included in this rig are 310 Ovation E-910FC IP color-mixing indoor/outdoor ellipsoidal units, 130 Ovation E-260WW IP warm white fixtures, and 205 COLORado 3 Solo pieces.
Many of these fixtures are hung on a 183-foot span that runs over the downstage deck. From this position they provide front light, texture across the stage, and scenic element lighting.
Rob Denton, The Muny’s house LD for the past eight years, discussed the upgrade at the 11,000 seat venue with us in this interview.
Can you describe the difference that the new LED rig has made at The Muny?
“The new rig allows us to have a wider breath of looks than before, and the ability to unify our lighting with the vibrancy and feel of the CHAUVET Professional F4IP LED video walls,” he said. “It also gives me, as well as any visiting designers, a greater ability to focus the audience’s collective eye. This is true whether we’re lighting a modern musical where we want vibrant light, or a classic show that requires the traditional warmth of the tungsten lamp. In each case, we can evoke the sought-after mood.”
What are some of the things that stand out about the new rig for you?
“The entire new rig is my baby,” said Denton. “I have been working on the plot and design of the system for several years now. For me, the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the quality of light from all the fixtures, especially the E-910FC IP and E-260WW IP. They have an amazing color and quality that feels like a traditional tungsten lamp, but of course they’re LED units with all of the advantages that brings. Plus, like the rest of the rig, they’re outdoor rated.”
How did you determine which Chauvet fixtures to install for the design?
“The need for an IP rating dictated a lot of the choosing, but I also needed the light be a complete replacement for a traditional incandescent lamp, I did not want a director to ask why does the light feel ‘wrong.’”
Aside from using outdoor rated fixtures, what other considerations come into play for an outdoor theatre?
“Many other considerations come into play, one of them is intensity, as we start shows at 8:15pm. It’s not really dark yet, so we need to have the intensity to carve thru the light of the setting sun, as well as the intensity to pull actors and sets away from an LED wall, which can easily over power everything.”
“Another thing is quality of light and reliability. There is also the ease of Focus. I say all of these things because for us at The Muny, we run a tight schedule. We cue all the shows in blind, so I need the light to do what I think it is doing. I need to know that it is a theatrical unit and not a rock unit, meaning I need to be able to picture what the light is doing in my head to cue the show, and it be reliable to do that.”