Return Of “Hair” to Broadway Supported by grandMA

by PLSN Staff • in
  • News
• Created: April 17, 2009

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NEW YORK — It took a bit more than the alignment of Jupiter and Mars to bring the rock musical, Hair, back to Broadway, but when it finally arrived, some 42 years after its first Broadway debut, it could be lit by a whole new generation of lighting gear, with automated lights and LEDs joining the conventional instruments. Instead of running the new gear on different consoles, lighting designer Kevin Adams opted to use MA Lighting’s grandMA consoles for all of it, which meant fewer consoles on site during set up and rehearsals and allowed the programmers to work on any console at any time while always having specific access to their part of the rig.  

“We decided to run the whole show off the grandMA for two reasons,” said Aaron Sporer, associate lighting designer for Hair.  “It was more cost effective than renting two moving light consoles and a conventional light console.  And by running the show on only one console platform we’ve eliminated the difficulty we’ve had in the past converting two-console shows to one-console shows for tours.”

The grandMA provided control of the automated lights for the numerous musical numbers, enhanced color control and scrolling for the conventional lights and furnished bitmap programming of the massive LED wall that spans the back of the stage.

“By putting everything on the grandMAs it was easy for (conventional light programmer) Jeff Dodson and I to work separately in rehearsals and previews with lighting designer Kevin Adams then go ‘full world’ and have full control of everything,” said automated lighting programmer Paul Sonnleitner.  “All the data is in all the consoles which operate like a mainframe.”  Show electrician Brian Dawson runs the grandMAs on a day-to-day basis.

According to Sonnleitner, Hair has “more automated lighting effects than most Broadway shows since it’s a rock musical.  There are 28 musical numbers in and not a lot of book scenes so there’s a lot of cueing.  The grandMA allows us to use different ColorBlast 72 fixtures for each six-inch piece of the back LED wall which spans stage left to stage right.  We employ the bitmap engine to do amazing rainbow effects quickly.”

“We chose the grandMA for its ability to speedily handle a lot of moving lights and a lot of LED fixtures and their color effects,” said Sporer.  “The speed at which Paul gave us a huge variety of LED effects and gradient looks was really helpful in shaping the back wall of the set.  Because so much of the system lighting work of the rig was done with moving lights, it was great to have a console where Paul could manipulate and mark them really efficiently.”

“We really enjoy the dependability of the grandMA network and the ease of which any of us can walk up to a console and suddenly control the correct part of the rig,” Sonnleitner added.

“Kevin and Aaron have taken on the job of re-designing a classic from the 1960s.  This show combines the most difficult aspects of both a rock concert and a theatre production, which makes it more difficult to light properly than either by itself.  Paul Sonnleitner makes that possible.  He is an exquisitely talented programmer and he goes deeply into the feature set of the grandMA to make this a successful collaboration,” said Bob Gordon, president and CEO of A.C.T Lighting, the distributor of the grandMA in North America.

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