As a programmer and a designer, Jacob Gowler, who worked on the production, stated it was “a dream” to programme the Robe T1s and LEDBeam 150s on the theatre’s ETC console.
The Cambridge Theatre Company (CTC) used Robe’s new T1 Profiles and LEDBeam 150s for the first time for its production of the crime-and-passion fuelled musical Chicago (High School Edition). The show was staged over six performances in the 337-seat Great Hall in October at The Leys School in central Cambridge, UK.
For this production, the professionals were lighting designer Jacob Gowler, director Chris Cuming, Set and Costume designer Frankie Gerrard and Sound designer Nick Hall. It was the first time that CTC had worked with a professional lighting and set designer as part of the creative team.
Gowler is a freelance LD and programmer who lights many musicals and opera, across the UK. Gowler specified the Robe elements, which were supplied by rental company CEG and used in conjunction with the Great Hall’s mainly LED-based house lighting rig.
The production brought a modern twist to Ebb & Bob Fosse’s timeless classic, presented as a cabaret-style show with a raised platform on stage for the nine-piece orchestra and the letters C – H – I – C – A – G – O spelt out as part of the main set, built into jail bars or on coat stand styled pieces of scenery with which the cast interacted.
Commenting on the performance, Gowler said: “The T1s allowed us to finesse the timings in great detail and this was absolutely key to creating the overall aesthetic for this show.”
The nature of the production saw scenes ‘morphing’ from one to another and here the design followed utilising live moves. Gowler used live moves in the shutter and colour modules to shift the spaces from offices upstage to press reporters commentating from the downstage extremes.
He used the T1’s full-colour range. Some scenes like the prison needed to be cool with pastel tones, while warmer looks were needed for the office interiors and the romantic musical moments.
He also appreciated the brightness and the way both T1s and LEDBeam 150s punched relentlessly through the rest of the rig, even in the darkest and densest colours. It was a haze-heavy production, so the quality optical systems in both fixture types helped them slice through the atmosphere.
The high circle LEDBeam 150s lit the pros arch for preset which was something new Jacob tried, and it was well-received. The moving lights worked exceptionally hard on the rig with over 400 cues created in an intense two and a half days, after which Jacob says he will “definitely” be using them again.