A production of Chicago The Musical returned for a second season at Costa Rica’s Melico Salazar Popular Theater this year. This time around, the lighting team was able to draw on a new set of lighting tools, having recently invested in new fixtures from the Selecon and Showline and brands.
One of the most important theaters in Costa Rica, the Melico Salazar Popular Theater is also the most well suited to stage the production, thanks to its size, acoustics and technology. For the return of Chicago The Musical, which was co-produced by Luciérnaga Productions, Las Bandas de Conciertos del MCJ and the Melico Salazar Theater, the lighting team were able to make a number of improvements to the previous year’s design, thanks to its comprehensive lighting system upgrade.
Lighting designer Valeria Coghi says, “The concept for the lighting design of Chicago started with the idea of a balance between the glamor of the performances and the atmosphere of the streets. So we needed bright colors, deep shadows and a soft light ambience with a feeling of old fashioned color, as if looking at sepia photography.”
Chiaroscuro techniques were worked into the lighting design, with shadows contrasting with areas of soft lighting to help define both characters and set. With the new equipment purchased by the theatre, Coghi and the lighting team found they were better equipped to light the show in this way.
The new system included a combination of LED fixtures from the SHOWLINE brand and conventional tungsten fixtures from the Selecon range. Showline fixtures included 44 X SL PAR 155 ZOOMS, 12 X SL BAR 640 STRIPS and 8 X SL LEDSPOT 300 moving heads, while from the Selecon range were chosen 50 x SPX PROFILE ZOOMSPOTS (15°-35°) and 44 X RAMA 175 HP FRESNEL (7°-56°).
“The combination of LED and conventional luminaires helped the lighting design to both transport the audience back in time, and forward into a razzle-dazzle show environment,” says Coghi, “and the luminous characteristics of the SPX and RAMA fixtures gave us the possibility to control areas of light as required, using the intensity and framing. For example, when June kills her husband with a knife, I wanted it to look as if the space was cut with a knife.”
Aside from their light output, the Showline LED products offered distinct practical advantages. Coghi says, “The Showline products were so important in lighting Chicago because we only had three days in the tech week to set up all the lighting equipment. Their advanced mounting adjustments, plus the precision in their movement and color calibration, gave us the confidence that we’d get the result we were expecting.”
The quality of the Showline engineering also gave benefits in performance. “The precise movement of the equipment helped us to make scene transitions quickly,” says Coghi, “which for the audience enhanced the continuity of the story, without the interruption of blackouts. In addition, the color temperature control gave us the chance to play with different contrasts, controlling zones and full-color washes.”
To provide comprehensive control of the new lighting rig, the theater also invested in a new NEO lighting control console from the Strand Lighting brand. “The NEO console helped with the setup by speeding up the work processes, mainly with the control of Showline products,” says Coghi.
She says the NEO console has proved a welcome asset to the theater, “Not only for Chicago the Musical, but also for all the performances we have in the theater during the season.”
Coghi adds, “The lighting design could not have been achieved without the excellent team work of all the creative departments, and the quality increased a lot in this second season, thanks to the new Phillips technology implemented at the theater.”