LOS ANGELES -- (For Immediate Release) – Star power was out in force on March 19th, when the Geffen Playhouse hosted the 15th annual “Backstage at the Geffen,” a fundraiser that benefits the celebrated theatre’s artistic and community outreach programs. Quincy Jones and Mel Brooks were honored; their awards presented respectively by Barbra Streisand and Rob Reiner. Aisha Tyler of the Emmy-winning CBS program The Talk was the evening’s host. Bridesmaids director Paul Feig appeared, as did comedians Sarah Silverman and Dave Chappelle.
This star-studded list of honorees and participants notwithstanding, as a charity event, Backstage at the Geffen had to be run with an eye toward controlling operating costs. For lighting supervisor Darren Rezowalli, this meant creating a compact rig that could be set up quickly, yet still deliver the sharp effects and rich colors that such a glamorous evening demanded. A collection of CHAUVET Professional fixtures was critical in helping the LA-based designer create the looks he wanted without sacrificing the efficiency he needed.
“The gala typically falls between two mainstage productions, and since it’s a fundraiser, we do not want to do a labor intensive – and costly --rehang for it,” said Rezowalli. “Our plot for the gala is always heavily influenced by either the incoming or outgoing lighting designs. This can be challenging because the gala uses the full stage, while our designed season productions use very custom configurations. The deck here is trapped. We usually rebuild half the apron for the gala to allow more seats. This calls for us to be creative and turn what we have flying in the air into a couple front light washes.”
Rezowalli brought in six Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, supplied by Three-Phase Productions, for the fundraiser. He credits these fixtures with helping him meet a very tight load-in schedule. “The Rogues are lightweight and have a low power draw for the punchy looks they deliver,” he said. “These qualities greatly aided us during load-in. We just had to drop one AC line and one DMX line to each pipe. Then we daisy chained the fixtures with powerCON jumpers.
“In the morning, as the deck was being rebuilt, we got to work setting up the lighting,” continued Rezowalli. “Meanwhile, the sound crew was eager to get on stage while we were still working. Fortunately, we managed to get the two electrics hung and flown back out in about 30 minutes. This gave us more time for programming the show, and the other crews got to get on with what they needed to do. After the first 30 minutes of hang, it was just me sneaking onstage to call FOH focus while the piano tuner and sound crew did their thing.”
The Rogue R2 Wash fixtures were positioned on overhead line-sets in two rows of three fixtures each. Rezowalli used the RGBW wash to create subtly colored back washes. “About 80 percent of the gala calls for a podium look,” he said. “So we used one of the Rogues – the one downstage right – as the back light on the podium. The other five units toned the floor. The deep natural looking colors we got from them added a sense of elegance to the evening.”
Rezowalli also used four Ovation B-2805FC batten- style RGBA-Lime fixtures, supplied by FP Logistics, to create captivating backdrops during the event. “We made use of the many segments of the fixture’s LEDs to do some pixel chasing effects for the opening number, which featured some modern dancing accompanied by Lee England Jr. on the violin,” he said. “We had no ground row or masking, but the diffuser accessory on the Ovation batten did a great job of blending the light immediately out of the fixture. The color on the wall was really smooth. The audience was just looking right at the fixture.”
Like most elegant affairs that seem to come together with the smoothness of a blended drink, Backstage at the Geffen was the result of hard -- and sometimes frantic -- behind the scenes work, according to Rezowalli. “Ramine Ameli, the Geffen Playhouse Production Electrician, was instrumental,” he said. “While I was running the crew and calling FOH focus, he got everything patched and programmed in all the focus palettes for the Rogues and effects for the Ovation battens.
“Dan Ionazzi, the Production Manager, who was on stage during sound check, also made things much easier for us by ‘translating’ what the artists wanted so we could deliver it to them,” continued Rezowalli. “In the end everyone was happy; the audience didn’t care about how efficiently we set everything up, they just appreciated that the stage looked really good.”
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CHAUVET Professional offers innovative professional lighting fixtures for the production and touring market as well as permanent installation in theaters, hospitality venues, cruise ships, clubs, television and architainment applications. For more information, please visit www.chauvettheatre.com