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Philips Vari-Lite VL4000s help to recreate The Golden Age of Circus

Photo credits: © The Works Entertainment
Circus 1903 - The Golden Age of Circus used the versatile Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot and Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 BeamWash fixtures from Signify in its recent successful run at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre in Singapore. The spectacular show, which first played at the Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, will appear at London’s Royal Festival Hall later this year.
Lighting designer Paul Smith says, “The VL4000 Spots are the main front light of the show, whilst the VL4000 Beam Washes are in the downstage, mid-stage, and upstage of the stage left and right wings to give me a low sidelight / cross-light position. The Spots have been particularly useful for the framing shutters, the theatre friendly gobo selection and the CTO wheel - not forgetting the massive zoom range.”

“The VL4000 BeamWash performs well as a wash, and as a spot too - much better than I ever expected a hybrid fixture like this to perform,” he says. “The Spots have been particularly useful for the framing shutters, the theatre-friendly gobo selection and the massive zoom range.”

Smith says, “We were keen to present two very different color palettes to this show while still maintaining an element of spectacle throughout. Act One has an external setting which requires muted pastels and straw colors, whilst Act Two places the action within the circus tent, with saturated colors and bold contrasts. Having two fixtures from the same family is a big time-saver as they behave the same way and you don’t have to second guess yourself every time you want to modify something. The consistency of the colour across the two different units, and the good quality pastels and saturates make all the difference.”

Central to the show are two life-size elephant puppets, a mother and baby. With four puppeteers operating the mother there is a need to keep the floor clear, which presented Smith with a challenge. “The BeamWashes have been very helpful in reducing the number of units I need in the low side positions,” he says. “They are quite large fixtures, but the trade-off is that I get a lot of features. I used to have a VL3500 Wash and a VL3500 Spot in the same area, but as space was tight I’ve now opted for the hybrid. I’ve not been disappointed.”

“I’ve been very pleased with the light output; I don’t think there’s a point where we run at 100%,” comments Smith. “Both the Spots and the Beam Washes have been remarkably reliable so we haven’t had to spend time swapping fixtures out. The producers are happy that I’ve been able to cut fixtures and the director is happy we are delivering the best possible audience experience.”

Martin Palmer, Philips Vari-Lite Product Manager for Signify, says, “The VL4000 Spot and BeamWash offer great performance and versatility, as Paul’s clever use of them for Circus 1903 clearly demonstrates. We are committed to delivering high quality lighting solutions that help creativity to thrive in the real world of show production, and the VL4000 fixtures do that with style.”

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