Live Design Blog Archive

Great Balls of Fire! grandMA Gets Busy Behind the Scenes of Broadway's “Million Dollar Quartet”

There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on and grandMA's in the thick of it at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre where the hit musical, "Million Dollar Quartet," billed as the night rock 'n roll came alive, is playing to packed houses. MA Lighting's grandMA controls the lighting for the show inspired by the one-time-only 1956 recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins at Sun Records in Memphis. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the grandMA in North America.

David Arch programmed the entire production for lighting designer Howell Binkley on a full-size grandMA and the show is run from a grandMA light with a backup light on hand. Arch is a grandMA veteran having done lighting control for "Memphis," "West Side Story," "In The Heights", "9 to 5," and "Guys and Dolls" on the console.

"We initially had a complement of conventional lights, primarily ETC Source Fours, on another desk and brought in the grandMA to control moving lights - a large array of VARI*LITE VL3000 spots and washes plus Martin Atomic 3000 strobes and Highend AF-1000 strobes," Arch recalls. "Then we migrated all the lights over to the grandMA."

He explains that, "for most of the show, the set looks like a vintage Sun recording studio with leather-style baffling walls." In the first two acts each of the stars does three or four songs illuminated by some high and steep LED uplighting. "They didn't want to be too flashy until they got into the encores," notes Arch. "They wanted to keep the earlier stuff a little more period looking."

But the show "ends with a bang with lots of flashing lights, fog and LEDs," he reports. "Where a tufted button would be on the set's baffle panels there's a LED instead. Each panel has six LEDs for a total of thousands of channels that are illuminated for only ten seconds in a big effects sequence when the set we've seen throughout the show suddenly flies out for a series of encores. We were tasked to run them on the grandMA because the producers didn't want to bring in a separate video server for the LEDs."

The set's sudden move also reveals a light wall filled with ETC Source Four PAR lamps programmed for pixel-mapping effects that lend an old-style warehouse feel to the venue for the last three numbers.

Arch is convinced that the grandMA is "the right console" for "Million Dollar Quartet." "What other console can drive 200,000 LEDs plus conventional lights plus moving lights and do bitmapping?" he asks. "The grandMA was great; I don't think there was a function we didn't utilize. You can tell I like working on the console - in the last three or four years I've done two or three shows a year on it!"

David Arch and Howell Binkley are great, both individually and together. They make use of the features that distinguish the grandMA from all other consoles. I am going to see the show soon and I know that I will be proud of their results," concludes A.C.T Lighting President and CEO Bob Gordon.

The show's crew includes production electrician James Fedigan, show electrician Dan Coey, conventional-lighting programmer Ron Martin, house electrician Richie Beck and followspot operator John Van Bushkirk.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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