Vari*Lite & ETC Razzle Dazzle Chicago

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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Chicago is one of the world’s most popular and thrilling smash-hit musicals. After a decade of decadence Chicago has returned to Australia and is currently playing at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre.

Chicago has been honoured with 6 Tony Awards®, 2 Olivier Awards®, a Grammy® and thousands of standing ovations. An estimated 17 million people around the world have seen Chicago which has played over 15,000 performances worldwide.

The legendary lighting designer Ken Billington lit the original Chicago on Broadway many years ago using Vari*Lite VL6 fixtures. Since then he has overseen numerous productions and the moving lights have changed with the times. The Australian production has a rig consisting of ten VL2500 spots and over 250 ETC Source 4 fixtures, supplied by Bytecraft Entertainment.

“We went from VL6 to VL6C on Broadway, in London from VL6 to VL2000 spots and VL1000 Arc,” he commented. “The original Australian production used VL6 and for this production we went to VL2500 spot.

“The show moving light wise is simple and I do not use many gobos and don’t do colour mixing. The few times we use colour it is from the colour wheel. I have not re-designed the show I have just upgraded the equipment. Over time the lighting has gotten brighter; the theatres are bigger for touring productions than the Broadway and West End theatres, so an increase in intensity was necessary.

“The Vari*Lite is the moving light I always request for Chicago. They are efficient, reliable and a work horse in the industry. When Chicago was done in 1997 it was one of only two moving yoke spots made in the world. I guess I am loyal and why change a good thing?”

Ken reveals that Chicago on Broadway was the first complete ETC Source 4 show done in New York.

”When we opened thirteen years ago the PAR had just come out,” he said. “The show worldwide is all Source 4’s. In some country’s it was the first Source 4 they had ever seen! It was also the first all Source 4 show on the West End.”

Photos by Jeff Busby