Vari-Lite VL440 Spots Are "Lightning in a Bottle" for Spamalot

by Naomi Crews

Philips Vari-Lite VL440 Spots at Robidoux Resident TheatreLighting Designer Jeff Stover used Philips Vari-Lite VL440 Spots to light the Robidoux Resident Theatre's production of Spamalot in order to take his lighting "over the top." 

Vari-Lite VL440 Spots are ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ for SPAMALOT

LD Jeff Stover creates an over-the-top lighting design at the Robidoux Resident Theatre

Dallas, Texas - Known for its professional productions throughout Northwest Missouri, the Robidoux Resident Theatre recently produced the musical comedy SPAMALOT. Brought on by the director of the show, Jeff Stover, Assistant Professor/Technical Director at Missouri Western State University, was asked to create a lighting design that could match and enhance the whimsical satire of the show itself. To accomplish this, he wanted to be able to take the design to an extraordinary level, so he brought on the additional support of VL440 Spot Luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.

“With SPAMALOT being so over-the-top in style, it gave me opportunities to take the lighting over-the-top as well,” began Stover. “This was definitely one of the shows where you could do the bump and flash with color mixing and have it fit perfect with the story. The Vari-Lite color mixing system was fantastic in this regard and the VL440 Spots were definitely the workhorses of the show. I had them doing bump and flash, audience abuse, changing colors; they worked great.”

The VL440 Spot luminaire is complete with all of the optical quality and functionality designers have come to expect from Philips Vari-Lite. The VL440 Spot luminaire provides powerful color mixing through its three-wheel CYM color assembly, and when combined with eight standard colors on a fixed wheel, the color options are practically limitless. The fixture uses a 400-watt MSR Gold 400 MiniFastFit lamp for its impressive lumen output, has a zoom range from 15-35 degrees, and also has a mechanical iris for continuous beam control.

Stover continued, “The show was produced in an old movie theatre called the Missouri Theatre built in the 1920’s, and its stage measures approximately 45’ wide x 30’ deep. The city recently funded a renovation of the line sets so we had a modern rigging system, but we needed to bring in automated lighting fixtures to give us the creativity needed for the show.”

Additionally, the VL440 Spot has a coated glass dimmer wheel to provide smooth fades, and a separate dual-blade strobe system for quiet and reliable strobe effects. Its powerful pan/tilt motors provide smooth, time-controlled continuous motion, and for image projection the VL440 Spot has one gobo wheel with seven rotatable and indexable positions, plus a second gobo wheel with ten fixed positions.

“Another challenge was that with the older venue, power was an issue,” admitted Stover. “I had to have instruments that could run off 120V, but still be versatile with optimal color mixing in conjunction with color wheels, sharp gobos, and fast movement. Looking at all of this, the VL440 Spot was the perfect lightning in the bottle.”

With the production of SPAMALOT now closed, Stover is excited to share what he has learned about the VL440 Spot with his students. But when describing the VL440 Spot, he calls back to what one of his professors once told him.  

“A professor of mine always told us that one of the most important attributes to have in your lighting design is versatility, and that’s exactly what the VL440 Spot gave me,” concluded Stover. “They worked like a champ, exactly as I thought they would, and we never had any issues with them. Going from the initial design process to performing each night in the show, they truly excelled.”

As a leading designer and manufacturer of premiere automated lighting systems, Philips Vari-Lite provides equipment and services to the entertainment industry, serving such markets as concert touring, theatre, television, film, cruise lines, houses-of-worship, and corporate events. Vari-Lite automated lighting systems are available through a worldwide network of independent professional dealers.