HSL – leading UK lighting and visuals rental specialist – supplied moving lights and
LED screen for the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich’s recent production of the classic
Cy Coleman musical, “Sweet Charity’.
Lighting designer Nick Richings and set / costume designer Libby Watson added
plenty of colour, drama and atmosphere to the work, proving just how much can be
achieved with a little bit of technology and copious amounts of imagination.
HSL’s project manager John Slevin commented, “The budget was expedient and the
tech / rehearsal timeframe short, but everyone involved worked as a team utilising
creativity and ingenuity to ensure a truly excellent production that was a big hit
Nick and Libby worked closely on developing the whole visual concept with director
Pete Rowe, setting it in the 1960s underlined with a strong Pop Art aesthetic,
together with all the boldness, stylized text / images and colouring that embodied
A main upstage 4 x 4 metre flown video wall was made up of Martin EC20 LED
product and flanked by two smaller screen surfaces either side – measuring one
and two metres square respectively – all essential digital elements of the set
The screens were filled with Pop Art style parodies, line drawings and iconic words
from the era, some directly related to the narrative e.g. “Splash’ for when Charity
is pushed into the lake, as well as to provide locational information.
This Pop Art vibe and the primarily monochrome scenic set pieces were the starting
point for Nick’s lighting scheme for which HSL provided ten Robe 600E Spots which
he used extensively … on all the big production numbers and to highlight various
other specific scenes.
“They were on the whole time, worked hard throughout the show and were vital to
the look and feel of the lighting’ he commented.
In “Big Spender’ eight female saxophone players were down-lit with tight 600E Spot
beams which brought a classy, sassy look to the stage parodying how light could be
used as another genre of Pop Art expression.
All the brightness and colour moments were counterbalanced by monochrome looks,
and this contract was developed as a vehicle to distinguish between indoor
(colourful) and exterior (desaturated) locations.
Lighting – Nick also utilised a wide selection of generic fixtures from the substantial
house lighting system – was programmed on the house ETC EOS console by Dave
Gardener from the theatre’s LX crew.
Nick and Libby chose the EC20 screen after seeing a demo at Opera Holland Park
and selected it from the three options offered by HSL. Libby chose to work with LED
rather than projection because of the specific vibrant “pop-out’ look she wanted.
The screen content was all stored on a QLAB media server supplied by HSL.
The screens were filled with images and text throughout the show, primarily stills
artwork with some animated sequences, all created by Libby. Much of it was hand
drawn to avoid looking too computer generated and a lot of it was inspired by Roy
Lichtenstein’s comic book style, which worked perfectly on the screens –
dramatically as well as technically recalled Libby, who was delighted with the