Lighting Designer Ollie Wilkinson Transforms the Stage for Walk Like a Man

by Michael Eddy
Walk Like a Man with a lighting design by Ollie Wilkinson. Photo by Jules
Walk Like a Man with a lighting design by Ollie Wilkinson. Photo by Jules

Walk Like a Man takes audiences back in time to the freewheeling early ‘60s when the music of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ruled the airwaves. The Mark Halliday-produced show recently ran at Blackpool’s historic Grand Theatre. The cheerful, nostalgic music was supported by a fast-moving upbeat lighting design created by Ollie Wilkinson of Arranpaul Ltd.

Wilkinson’s design featured a range of products from Chauvet Professional, anchored by Rogue R1 Spot and Q-Wash 560Z-LED moving fixtures. His lighting design captured the snappy devil-may-care spirit of the doo-wop era that transformed the musical landscape throughout the UK and USA. “Our team at Arranpaul has spent a substantial amount of years building a relationship with the Grand Theatre,” said Wilkinson. “This was the perfect opportunity to collaborate with them once again with a colorful lighting concept to reflect the energy and vibrancy of this critically acclaimed show.”

Wilkinson hung five Rogue R1 Spot fixtures above the stage to back light the performers, creating an evocative mood that conjured up images of singing on the street corners and in the small clubs of the early 1960s. To enliven the stage with the sense of expectation that was so characteristic of the early rock era, he shook up his look by occasionally driving his spot fixtures slightly out of focus to use them as wash lights.

“I wanted this show to represent the generation that the music was bringing back to life, so I wanted a fixture that would provide me with some powerful old-school looks, mixed with a sense of surprise,” said Wilkinson. “Not only did the R1 enable us to create static spotlights behind each singer on stage, it also gave us the ability to create saturated washes. We also used our Q-Washes to add motion and excitement to the stage, creating a sense of something being about to happen.”

While his moving fixtures provided performance-defining looks, Wilkinson also utilized Chauvet DJ Pix Par 24 fixtures to illuminate sections of large white cloth, which partitioned the band from the singers. “The Pix Par 24s lit the upstage ‘sails’ from top to bottom with saturated strong wash colors,” continued Wilkinson. “This allowed me to have an almost two-tone effect with the cloths, which added a great deal of depth and perspective to the stage.”

The Arrenpaul team also made use of the Chauvet Professional Net-X Art-Net system, so they didn't have to run DMX multicores from FOH to stage. “Using Chauvet’s Net-X system allowed us to set up, program and execute the entire show with absolute ease,” said Wilkinson. “I always try to extract the best possible looks from the fixtures at hand. Here, the Chauvet fixtures allowed me to create some memorable scenes to give support to the claim that Blackpool is still the entertainment capital of the UK. As a proud Blackpool native, I couldn’t be happier with the results!”

Walk Like a Man, as lit by Ollie Wilkinson, featured a number of Chauvet Professional lighting products. Photo by Jules

Further information from Chauvet Professional: www.chauvetprofessional.com