Zorro Musical Gets Tungsten Look with Martin

by Stage Directions
LONDON – Currently on tour in the UK before opening on the West End in June is Zorro the musical, a stage production set to the richly resounding Latin American music of the Gipsy Kings and featuring a display of flamenco dancing, sword-fighting and acrobatics. Based on Isabel Allende's 2005 bestseller Zorro: A Novel, the stage musical is a prequel to the traditional events of the Zorro legend.

Ben Ormerod, who has worked extensively in theatre and opera, lit the show. He comments: “I began with the simple plan that the show should look unlike any musical that I had seen before. My background is mainly focused on classical theatre and dance and ballet.

As soon as I read the script and the novel that the script was based on, it was clear to me that the show was going to need a tungsten look.”

He continues, “We had a limited space on the rig, so I knew a generic rig wouldn’t do. Everything had to move to get the most out of the space we had. That included the tungsten source and I knew the only moving tungsten unit for this was the MAC TW1. The show needed to have a strong Californian sunlight, as this was a very important element, and you can’t create that with anything other than tungsten. We might have used par cans, but they would have used up the rig space for just that one effect.”

“For the cold palette I used the MAC 700 Wash to create wonderful moonlight blues for example, and the MAC 700 Profile for spectacular projection effects. Aside from movement, the big issue in the choice of units was one of noise. Silence was crucial, there was no overhead masking so the units had to be extremely quiet. The feeling of the show is acoustic – there’s one song for instance, with just Zorro alone with a guitarist.”

Ormerod uses the MAC TW1 and 700s, which are both quiet in operation, dimming and movement. The scrollers on the other lights were the loudest thing in the rig.

“We used the mechanical dimmer the whole time and that worked very well. The snaps are good and you can get the whole rig synchronized and moving together,” he adds. “I am more interested in narrow shafts of lights to illuminate the individual without the rest of the stage. This dazzles the audience by the contrast of the lit actor and darker set. So we used the narrow lens option on the TW1’s as we were looking for something equivalent to a CP61, but in fact the TW1 was actually narrower and brighter.”

The rig was supplied by Stage Electrics; Andri Davis was the programmer.

The multi-million British pound show has received standing ovations and rave reviews on its tour, and is now heading to the West End where it is scheduled to open on June 30 at the Garrick Theatre.

“I don’t know how I would have lit this show a year ago without the TW1 and the MAC 700s,” concludes Ben.

First penned by Johnston McCulley in 1919, Zorro’s many reincarnations have captured the hearts and minds of readers and audiences ever since. In pulp, novels, film and television, countless fans have watched the heroic Zorro’s escapades as he battles Spanish foes.

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