Lighting a Classic with Chameleon
Chicago is back in town, and it’s vulgar, brassy, loud, and totally irresistible! Kander and Ebb’s vaudeville valentine of murder and celebrity in Chicago of the 20’s still delivers with all the theatrical razzle dazzle anyone could ever need.
Produced in Australia by John Frost and Suzanne Jones, Chicago is currently playing at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, after which it will travel to Brisbane and the Melbourne.
The current Broadway revival debuted on November 14, 1996 playing ever since and is now the longest running American musical in history.
The revival production was lit by the award-winning lighting designer Ken Billington and today the Broadway show remains exactly the same except the console has been updated. Chicago was the first all ETC Source 4 (Profiles and Pars) show done anywhere in the world and also the first Source 4 show in London’s West End.
However the current international light plot has had a few subtle changes, mainly upgrades of ETC gear and the one model of moving light is now the Martin MAC Quantum Profiles.
“They were and still are Vari*Lite VL6 on Broadway,” added Ken. “The show changed to MAC Quantums when they first came out to save on lamp replacement costs. The look is the same as the VL6, although we run the Quantums at about 60% otherwise they are too bright.”
Colour Scrollers were changed to ETC Series 2 Lustr on the US tour four years ago and the new productions worldwide use the ETC Series 2 Lustr instead of scrollers.
On Broadway the original control was an ETC Obsession ML (a console that was added to the Obsession range for moving lights with ETC making only ten of them). This was changed to an ETC Obsession 2 in 2004 and to an ETC ION in 2018
“I have lit Chicago with the same direction, choreography, scenery, costumes and lighting in over twenty two countries in the language of that country,” commented Ken. “It’s a hit and has won major theatre awards including for the lighting so until the director changes the production I see no reason to change the lighting! All Chicago productions look the same. It is fun to go around the world working on a hit musical and to bring to audiences worldwide the same thrill you would have if you saw the show opening night on Broadway.”
Chameleon Touring Systems supplied this production with Gavan Swift acting as the Associate Lighting Designer for the Australian tour.
Photos: Jeff Busby