Most college-level teachers of theatrical lighting design will tell their students that, in most productions, one should not draw attention to the lighting. That is, the lighting scheme should support the script or highlight the actors. The colors, intensity, and placement of the lights shouldn’t, in conventional wisdom, be the show.
It isn’t always true.
I live in New York City and I love the theatre. So I go a lot, buying my ticket just like everybody else. Since I’ve been with Rosco for over thirty years, I’m very conscious of how designers use color, gobos and Rosco equipment. Except for the splashy Broadway musicals, most designers use color and gobos subtly … to help communicate the time of day, or the location of the action or, even more subtly, the mood of the conversation on stage.
But every now and then you find a production where the lighting designer broke those rules … and in many case, it’s a darn good thing he or she did! That was my experience when I saw “Falling For Eve”, an off-Broadway production of a new musical. The cast was wonderful, but the music, book and lyrics undistinguished. In short, it wasn’t a very good show.
But enter the designers, Herrick Goldman on lighting and Beowulf Boritt, on set design. The two of them made something special out of what would otherwise have been a dull evening in the theatre. And there was nothing subtle about the lighting!
The set was, as you can see in the video, a single unit which served as both the Garden of Eden and various other locations. (The show re-imagines the story of Adam and Eve.) It was painted a nondescript color.
But Herrick Goldman lit it brilliantly, with cues aligned with the music, and/or the lyrics or the dialogue. He used a variety of gobos and Roscolux colors to enliven and illuminate the small stage. But perhaps most important, he used a Rosco X-24 projector to provide both animation and depth to the color and the gobos. This artful design added immeasurably to what was happening on the stage. The key component here wasn’t the Roscolux, the gobos or even the Rosco X-24 – much as I wish that were true – it was the talent and courage of the designers and the director to make the lighting a significant additional character in the show.
For me, and I suspect, many in the audience, it was the most significant character in the show.