ETC and Vari*Lite Star in Jersey Boys

Posted on Friday, September 25th, 2009


Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30. And now their story is being told in Jersey Boys at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, with the help of lighting designer Howell Binkley and Bytecraft Entertainment. In Australia Hugh Hamilton is acting as both Associate Lighting Designer and Production Electrician.

The star of the show, from a lighting point of view, is a giant ‘stadium with six lighting towers’ made up of 144 ETC Source FourPARs. These hold custom donuts (gel frames that limit the size of the aperture of the light after the lens) fabricated to create an impression of perspective for the luminaires, which were placed upstage, facing the audience.

“The bank of 144 Source FourPARs, along with some strobes, looks amazing and is an epic look in the show. It comes at the end of the first act, as The Four Seasons, at the top of their popularity, are performing a live concert on stage. For this look, the stage has been transformed 180 degrees so that the back of the actors are to the audience, but they’re facing what looks like an entire stadium filled with people.”

The holes in the donuts get increasingly smaller, and combined with the placement of the Source Four PARs, give the illusion that the lights get farther away. With a painted backdrop, the effect produces a very convincing look of a huge space in front of the actors, as though the audience of the show was looking directly into the audience of the stage concert. The effect is further enhanced with the use of star strobes to simulate flashbulbs in the crowd.

The show is broken down into four sections, each symbolizing a season as in Four Seasons. Each section is announced with a title slide on a main centre projection screen in the colour tones that characterize each season. Although subtle, these colours are carried through each scene within the section, reflecting the characterization of that season, which also happens to aptly describe the period of time or situation of the band. During the bleak winter section, the band is down to two members with a harsh seeming outlook. All this is illuminated by the lighting, keeping to black-and-white colour tones and minimizing vivid colours.

This concept helped to shape the show around a very open set, consisting of a long, upper-level balcony built of steel, some chain link fences that fly in and out and a cyc backdrop. With the help of some props and smaller set items like tables and chairs that roll on and off, the set is really created by the lighting and projection.

”We also thirty-eight VL2500 wash and thirty-eight VL2500 spot in the rig and they work pretty hard throughout the show,” added Hugh. “It’s really a nice looking design using the colour temperature of the Source Fours against the Vari-lites quite a lot.

An ETC Obsession 2 with dual processor tracking is used to program and control the conventionals.