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ETC Source Four LED™ shines new spotlight on 1960s scandal with PRG

Andrew Webber musical

A new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in London has introduced audiences to two innovations: the story of Stephen Ward, who was at the center of a political scandal in the 1960s; and a huge lighting rig that includes 65 ETC Source Four LED luminaires instead of tungsten fixtures.

Lighting designer Peter Mumford decided he wanted his rig to be as dynamic as the tabloid-worthy musical, and chose a large number of Source Four LED luminaires after seeing their versatility on King Kong in Melbourne. "ETC has managed to create hugely successful LED fixtures with the Source Four LED," he says. "ETC seems to have cracked the problem of making an LED source that works through lenses."

The largest part of the ETC Eos® -controlled rig for Stephen Ward is moving lights, says Mumford, but he used the Source Four LED Lustr+™ luminaires as his 'generics,' providing cross wash and side lighting. "They provide great support to the moving lights because of the color-mixing capabilities," he says. "I can have fine control of the output without having to change gels or scrollers."

The set is made up of a series of automated concentric curtains that, in combination with additional set pieces, work to create the many different locations required by the show. Because of the smooth, rapid changes from location to location, it was important for the lighting to be able to react quickly and quietly.

One of the other things that Mumford wanted to be able to do was long, smooth color changes as daylight changed in a scene. "When I used Source Four LED luminaires for Old Times ," he says, "I used the Source Four LED Lustr+ luminaires from a high cross wash position. I discovered I could incorporate almost imperceptible mood changes, something which would be impossible to do with any other type of lighting. We can go from cool to warm - or vice versa - over a long, subtle period of time."

PRG supplied all the lighting and the control system for Stephen Ward . Account Director Peter Marshall was especially impressed with the fact that the ETC Source Four LED can produce both saturated and pastel colors with ease, commenting: "It ticks all the right boxes technically." Jon Cadbury managed the lighting on the production for PRG from their office in Covent Garden, just a short walk from the theater.

Lighting and video operator Andrew Bruce was equally pleased with the way his ETC Eos desk interacted with the lighting, adding that programmer Victoria Brennan was able to create a magic sheet that mimicked and tracked throughout the show. This enabled him to see a plan view of the rig, changing the lantern selection on the fly as necessary to help identify individual fixtures.

Stephen Ward the Musical chronicles Stephen Ward's rise and fall from grace in what became known as the Profumo affair. It was one of the biggest political scandals of the generation, leading to ministerial resignations and Ward's criminal conviction and suicide, yet most of Britain has forgotten about it. With this musical, Lloyd Weber has brought the issue back to the public eye, in an attempt to salvage Ward's reputation and prove he was wrongly convicted.

Photo © Nobby Clark