Back for their third tour, siblings Julianne and Derek Hough of TV’s Dancing With the Stars fame were out on their Move — Beyond — Live On Tour, which launched April 19 in Akron, OH and crisscrossed the country before concluding in Santa Rosa, CA June 17. With a combined total of nine wins on the show, the dancers are delighting audiences with their routines with the show visuals adding their own razzle-dazzle. The tour’s designers include Peter Morse (lighting) and Butch Allen (set). We spoke with Morse about the show.
“The primary point of discussion with Butch Allen was the need to maximize my lighting options and coverage while maintaining a low fixture/truss count for the system. Butch continually reminded me of the limitations presented by only having two trucks on the tour. He, of course, pointed out the advantages of the LED tape that not only surrounds the outer perimeter of the set cubes, but also that which illuminates the interior—thus assisting with lighting the dancers when inside the cubes.
“Butch offered many detailed drawings to assist me in determining the best options for lighting the show, and then discussions followed with DAS Design Works when we were in previz status, and to get a handle on the many channels of control necessitated for operating the LED tape. I wasn’t content with merely lighting them in solid colors. I was looking for flowing colors, for lack of a better description, reminiscent of the morphing colors on the fascia of old jukeboxes. Butch and I also discussed in detail the various levels of dance platforms and the available areas for adding back and key lighting.”
Besides the long days with the dance team, Derek and Julianne worked amazingly long hours to perfect their choreography.
“As far as interpretation of the stories of each number, that was presented in detail by Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (NappyTabs), the show’s directors; and Kyle Hanagami, the choreographer. Further discussion took place with Derek and Julianne as the production progressed. They would always have requests and/or ideas for specific lighting cues. Derek loved to watch the previz sessions.
“Once we got started with previz and final stages of dance rehearsals, very few changes were made. Rob Koenig, who programmed lighting, and I came in about 10 days into the dance rehearsals and began previz upon arrival. Fortunately, Kyle provided us with detailed video and running commentary for each dance number. We were on site for previz for about a week, then departed to Akron, Ohio, where we had full tech rehearsals for four days before the first show.
“With so few tech days, it was advantageous to have had previz time, especially with all the choreographic cues, along with extensive video content with which we had to coordinate. So, all the preparation definitely came in handy. What must be noted is, it can be far more challenging to light a show with fewer fixtures than with a large lighting rig. In this case, I had to go against tradition as far as properly lighting the dance. The challenge was finding ways to illuminate the dance, maintain the mood and storyline, and not look as if we were missing key elements of what would be an otherwise normal lighting system for this type of show.”
Ray Woodbury of RKDE Lighting and Morse “happen to go way back,” Morse says.
“Ray and I have worked together on many projects in the past, beginning with Ray as a tech and sales rep with Obie Lights; more recently as creative director on a couple of the GLEE LIVE tours several years ago, also directing and producing other major tours over the last several years.
“It was an especially nice surprise to find out from Butch that I would be working with Ray this time as our lighting vendor. His company has recently been quite active with many festivals and tours. In the process of developing the Move lighting system, I was especially challenged with the limited budget and available truck space. So, in the process, if I specified a fixture that wasn’t in Ray’s inventory, he would waste no time in securing a sub-hire…. However, in some cases, the budget restrictions tended to dictate choices in fixture options, but after a bit of creative “what-if” experimentation with the available fixtures, we came up with a plan. RKDE’s crew (Andy “Fig” Figueroa and Max Misemer) were first-rate, among the best.”
Morse notes that lighting director Alyssa Milione came recommended by lighting programmer Rob Koenig.
“Alyssa is, without a doubt, one of the best working LD’s with which I’ve had the pleasure to work. She has a total understanding of the purpose of each number in the show; a total command of the cueing, both console and spots; as focused on the labor side of load in and load out as anyone else on the crew; and total respect and admiration of everyone on the tour. She definitely has my respect.
“Video director Fabian Herrera always produces first-rate gear, and Mark ‘Biz’ Burke is a truly amazing video programmer. He has an uncanny ability for taking stock video content and manipulating it with the music so it looks totally original, and beautifully timed for the music and visual dance. He’s an ex-dancer, and his timing is impeccable. Rob Koenig, my programmer, is well known for his affiliation with Metallica. However, his ability to bring that knowledge to the table — and integrate it with theatrical dance lighting and timing —is truly unique.
“All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with, both on and off the stage. The wonderful camaraderie and family environment trickled down from Derek and Julianne all the way through the touring crew, staff and creative team, a pure joy and I loved every minute of it!”
More 2017 Move – Beyond – Live On Tour photos by Steve Jennings: