ETC lights Les Misérables

Date Posted: 2/20/2014

ETC lights Les Misérables

When acclaimed theatrical lighting designer Ken Billington brought his magic to the new touring production of the Tony Award-winning musical Les Misérables  this summer, he relied on ETC's Eos and Ion consoles for full-rig lighting control.

ETC engineered Eos to provide designers with a powerful environment for controlling and programming the entire lighting rig. Ion is the smaller counterpart to Eos, featuring the same user interface as well as much of Eos' award-winning functionality and power.

"Moving lights light practically the whole show," says Billington, whose company, KB Associates, is based in New York City. "There are about 250 lighting cues in Les Misérables . The fixtures move all the time and do hundreds of things, but you don't see them move." The system was partitioned, with Eos controlling the automated rig and Ion the conventional lighting. Two ETC RVIs (Remote Video Interfaces) at the tech table allowed the design team visibility into the work of both programmers, Victor Seastone (Eos) and Steve Cooksey (Ion). Billington first used the Eos console at an early stage in its development two years ago, for a production of Henry IV, Parts I and II, at the Chicago Shakespeare Festival. "This show isn't as complex as it would be on Broadway," says Billington, "but complex enough to let us try the Eos and see the improvements. It's a good console - I like it. I would certainly use it again." Two weeks after completing the design on Les Misérables , Billington used Eos' sibling Ion for a production of the new musical, Ace, at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.

The lighting gear controlled by the Eos and Ion consoles in Les Misérables  includes nine Mac 2K Profiles, 12 Mac 2000 washes and 22 Vari*lite 5-B's, as well as 190 ETC Source Four® ellipsoidal spotlights and 36 ETC Source Four PAR wash lights.

Since making its debut on Broadway in 1987, Les Misérables  has grown to be one of the most powerful and popular musicals in theater history, having entertained more than 51 million theatergoers worldwide. This current staging, starring Robert Evan as Jean Valjean, is a co-production of Atlanta's Theater of the Stars with Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. The adaptability of the Eos and Ion consoles will serve the tour's busy lighting itinerary well as it plays in two large-scale, open-air venues - Wolf Trap in the Washington DC metro area, and the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, KS - as well as at Atlanta's Fox Theatre. The production was customized to accommodate stages of about 68 feet wide, as opposed to the more usual touring size of 40 feet.

Like Billington's own award-winning lighting design work, the Eos console has received its share of entertainment-industry accolades - Product of the Year (LDI 2006), Award for Innovation (ShowTech 2007), and Award for Innovation (PLASA 2007).