When Sight & Sound Theatres developed Jesus, the latest in its epic original productions of stories from the Judeo-Christian Bible, the lighting design team needed to bring color and life to the enormous sets depicting the streets of Jerusalem. They had visited the Middle East with Producer Josh Enck and had seen the ancient city in all of its sun-washed brilliance, and they wanted to bring that same warmth and energy to their Lancaster, Pennsylvania stage.
Once they returned, the designers faced two daunting challenges. Tyler Duffy, Lighting Design Manager at Sight & Sound, reported that, because much of the scenery lived on large wagons, they needed “a fixture that could be used in a battery-powered set piece that necessitated low power consumption as well as a low physical profile.” In addition, the entire 270-degree stage would be flooded with light and a wide range of effects for most of the show, so they also needed “a fixture that would stand up to the brightness of other automated and conventional lights illuminating the stage in and around these scenic elements.”
While searching for the right solutions to these issues, Duffy and his team discovered Rosco’s Pica Cube™ and Miro Cube® lights. “The Rosco line of LED fixtures was attractive from the outset due to its physical size, 4-color mixing system, and advertised illuminance,” said Duffy. The team had a demo of the Rosco Cube lights and were impressed by the smooth, 16-bit dimming curve, especially at lower levels. “The overall color space of the fixtures was also appealing,” Duffy added. “They not only mixed a variety of saturated colors, but also performed well when mixing pastels and various color temperature whites. The majority of the available color space looked aesthetically pleasing not only on painted surfaces, but also when used to illuminate the actors.”
The Miro and Pica Cubes both ship with a set of symmetrical spread lenses. These lens options also proved to be a key factor in their choice, Duffy noted. “This allowed us to use a single fixture, with uniform color space, across a wide variety of purposes within a single scenic element.”
The solution for the moving scenery wagons was the Rosco Pica Cube, which the lighting crew was able to power using 12v batteries. That ability, combined with their ultra-compact footprint, enabled the crew to tuck and hide Pica Cubes throughout the set, including eleven lights that were masked behind a wooden beam that was only 12”-18” high. Duffy and his team used two Pica Cube models in their design. First, they embedded 15 Pica Cube 4C fixtures underneath window treatments in the Jerusalem set. He noted that “the color mixing capabilities provided an individualized pop of color within each window to add a little more life to the overall set.”
They also used the Pica Cube WNC fixtures to create a specialized effect toward the end of the show. “During the moment of Pentecost, each disciple had his own fixture that came on to accent the presence of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples,” Duffy said. “The WNC fixture was chosen over the 4C fixture in order to get the brighter, more brilliant ‘pure’ white light.”
Sight & Sound also employed 28 Miro Cube 4C fixtures, which are hard-wired, as interior fill lights within the sets. “The range of available colors allowed us to use the same fixtures to both accent the interior walls with a wash of color, and to provide fill light from each side to cover the actors within the playing area of the set,” Duffy explained.
For more information about Sight & Sound Theatres and their upcoming productions in Lancaster, and in their second performing arts center in Branson, Missouri, visit their website: sight-sound.com. If you’d like to learn more about other design aspects of the production, you can read the article I wrote in PLSN magazine. Be sure to explore the Miro Cube 4C, Pica Cube 4C, and Pica Cube WNC product pages on Rosco.com to get more information about the compact and powerful Rosco LED lights mentioned in this article.