The Miss America Pageant saw 53 contestants walk the walk on stage at Boardwalk
Hall in Atlantic City when the 88th pageant returned to the city in September. Two
dozen Clay Paky Sharpy wash fixtures were on hand from Atomic Lighting in Lititz,
Pennsylvania for the gala telecast on ABC Television.
Allen Branton was the lighting designer for the Miss America Pageant with Felix
Peralta and Kevin Lawson the lighting directors and Laura Frank the screens
producer and media programmer.
“It was our eighth year doing the pageant,’ says Peralta. “It’s always a challenge to
recreate the excitement of the show; we’re looking to enhance and improve the
previous year’s telecast. With three days devoted to pageant preliminaries, which
are not broadcast, we got an opportunity to build the show on site. Friday and
Saturday were camera rehearsal days then Sunday was the live show.’
Kevin Lawson was responsible for the key light and audience light – an important
role for a show where 53 young ladies take centre stage. “The show is ultimately
about the contestants, and my primary task was to make sure all of them looked
good whether 53 girls were out there or one of them was performing in the talent
competition,’ he notes. “In a lot of ways the pageant is like an awards show: They
want a certain amount of grandeur, and there’s a long-standing tradition behind it.
The show has to be exciting but high quality and dignified.’
With large groups on stage at times Lawson was challenged to not just bathe the
scene with light. “I wanted to shape it enough to make the girls look great and be
individually visible,’ he explains.
Approximately 24 Sharpy Wash fixtures served as the primary stage wash. They
were hung across the stage and acted as “workhorses’ for the show, bathing the
contestants with backlight and colour, Lawson says. “They were in pretty much
every shot. I love Sharpys Washes: Their field is consistent, their zoom is great.
They’re bright, the colour is constant; they’re easily manipulated and fast. In fact,
they’re good for all shows.’
Felix Peralta, who handled the environment lighting, notes that the Sharpy washes
“treated some scenery, too, including the bigger-than-life-size Miss America statue,
which had six washes on it.’