Rooms: A Rock Romance

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Rooms: A Rock Romance is a 2009 Off-Broadway musical, which opened in March to a slew of good reviews. The show follows the off-and-on romance of Monica and Ian, wannabe rock stars from Glasgow. It’s the late 1970s, and, restyled as a punk duo, they write a hit song. The script follows their relationship, past and present. This two-character story takes place in dozens of locations in Glasgow, London, and New York.

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The lighting sketches in various locations, including street scenes in Glasgow, London, and New York, various homes, performance spaces, and backstage at CBGB. We created over 35 distinct locations achieving most of them using texture, color temperature, and gobos.

The director (Scott Schwartz) and I (Herrick Goldman) decided early on that squares would be used heavily to represent rooms and isolation. Much of the lighting was created using Martin MAC 700 s, which have no shutters. So I added a glass square as well as a square outline to the gobo load. Doing this allowed me to have the appearance of s hutters in these lights, and, with the rotating gobo and zoom range, this allowed for many unique isolation effects. In one instance, we use the Vari-Lite VL1000s to create a square room for Ian, and then we do a live move with the shutters to create a sense of his world closing in around him in a box.

Conceptually, the show is about Monica, who wants to see every room in the universe and escape Glasgow, w hile all Ian wants is to stay isolated in his own place until Monica drags him out of his shell. This allows us to create a feeling of freedom and openness for Monica, as she paces her moon strewn room, while bathed in textures that evoke swirling galaxies. Concurrently, Ian is trapped by squares of light that shutter kinetically and keep him isolated throughout the show.

Our rig has 20 moving lights : four MAC 700s, one Vari-Lite VL3500 that lets us shutter at will, and eight Martin TW1s, which are wonderful because they give you that tungsten color. Their CMY color mixing does some very subtle things, especially with their zoom, and the units really punch from our 18’- high grid. We also have seven Vari- Lite VL1000s, four in tungsten and three more in the arc version. These allowed us to manipulate the no-color color temperature and really affect the mood.

Really, though, the gobos are the thing. W e made several custom gobo loads for the MAC 700 s.These include street looks, Union Jacks for the punk performance numbers, and abstract patterns for some of the big emotional scenes. Sixty-eight ColorBlasts are on hand, as well, serving as cyc lights, scenery toners, and saturated footlights. In one number about New York, Monica says, “ T he sky turns a million shades of red downtown. ” T he upstage cityscape, which is lit by the LEDs, does all sorts of pinks and oranges. Overall, the VL1000s provide clear front light, with the Martins adding in the deeply saturated colors for the performance numbers, such as in “All I Want is Everything,” which, among other things, features a number of rotating Union Jack gobos.

All told, the design team created a very complex show. There are 285 cues in a 90-minute musical. H owever, the lighting unfolds in seamless, fluid fashion, adding immeasurably to the story of Monica and Ian.

More of HG Lighting Design’s work may be seen at

Design Team
Lighting designer: Herrick Goldman
Associate LD: Susan Nicholson
Programmer: Nate Coons
Production electrician: The Syndicate
Lighting supplier and support: Scharff Weisberg

4 Martin Professional MAC 700 Profile
1 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot
8 Martin Professional TW1
4 Philips Vari-Lite VL1000 Tungsten ERS
3 Philips Vari-Lite VL1000 Arc ERS
68 Philips Color Kinetics ColorB last 12”
77 ETC Source Four (of varying degrees)
8 ETC Source Four PAR
7 City Theatrical PDS- 750-TR
4 Wybron CXI Color Changers
1 Barco/High End Systems F100 Fogger
1 MDG Atmosphere Hazer
30 Custom Rosco Gobos
ETC Eos C onsole
ETC Ion Console

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