London's Hippodrome Gets New Look with Coemar UK


London’s legendary Hippodrome in Leicester Square–made famous in the 1980’s by Peter Stringfellow–has extended its lease by 12 months under new incumbents: a consortium headed by Chinawhite director Jeremy Hartley and Leicester Square Association chairman Steve Bowen have taken on the lease, and earmarked a £750,000 ($dollars) development budget–including a large percentage on lighting. The new developers plan to return the Hippodrome to its early-century roots, while revisioning the lighting design.

The consortium awarded a contract worth £150,000 ($dollar) to Ian Kirby’s Coemar UK for the supply of a large consignment of Coemar moving head dancefloor and mid-air beam effects–to be used exclusively–as well as Hungaroflash strobes, James Thomas Engineering LED battens and ShowCAD computer control. These fixtures are meant to replace the Hippodrome’s majestic satellites, which were the mainstay of the club’s dynamic lightshows through the ’80s. The fixtures have been purchased and installed by Paul Craig’s Brighton-based Showtec.

The fixtures include 13 Coemar iSpot 575; six iWash 575, eight iSpot 150’s and two NAT 2500MM heads–with more to follow. L.E.D. have also supplied 10 Hungaroflash 5K strobes and six James Thomas Pixelline 1044 effects–all controlled by ShowCAD.

The Pixelline solid-state lights, designed as a viable alternative to traditional light battens, are a high-powered illumination device which will be used vertically, blazing out of the new proscenium arch, which has been created using red drapes by Acrejean Ltd.

"I had been aching to find a club site to show off the range of color-chase effects that can be created," Kirby says of the Pixilline, "as to date Pixelline has been used mostly in a rock ’n’ roll touring context. The Hippodrome is just about perfect."

The lighting will complement a versatile entertainment program, including trapeze and aerial artists, operating within a burlesque interior created by Argent Design, and intended to return the venue to its water circus origins of 1900.

Designed in conjunction with Hippodrome technical consultant, Derek Chalmers, the new lighting effects will be used predominantly to highlight the new VIP Room (formerly the Star Bar) and the Mezzanine Area. The powerful Coemar NATs will be mounted on an RSJ behind the DJ console, to provide a fast-moving scanning effect close to the VIP Room.

On the Mezzanine level, the Hungaroflash strobes will be used around the balcony edge as a fast effects chase -and as a solid block of "Blinders." The eight Coemar iSpot 150s will provide a mid-air beam effect.

The iWash 575’s will throw blocks of color onto the dancefloor and will provide a stage wash during live events, while the iSpot 575s will punch out the major dancefloor display.

There is something of a family feel about the lighting team that new operators, Smartgains Ltd., have assembled. Showtec had earlier carried out installation work at Taman Gang, Chinawhite’s restaurant in Park Lane, while Ian Kirby, having known Steve Bowen for a number of years, supplied the Leicester Square Association with James Thomas Pixel PAR 90(A) effects to color-change the Square’s trees several months ago.

The lighting team assembled by new operators, Smartgains Ltd., have worked together previously, and bring a familial sense of collaboration to the project.

"I am impressed with the attitude of both Ian Kirby and Showtec," says Hartley. "The ideas Ian had, gelled instantly with what was going on in my head and the Coemar moving heads will look spectacular, as will the ambient lighting around the VIP Room and mezzanine. In realizing the prestige associated with this project, both companies have been extremely flexible in their approach."

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