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The John W. Engeman Theatre recently used fixtures from CHAUVET Professional for their pre-show activities at their performances of “ONCE.”

Critical to creating this captivating imagery was a richly colored and subtly textured lighting design by Cory Pattak that featured CHAUVET Professional Ovation E-910FC and Rogue R2 Wash fixtures from the theatre’s house rig.

“Trey Compton, the director, and I had long conversations about the role lighting would play in this,” said Pattak. “In the show’s original lighting design, for which Natasha Katz won a well-deserved Tony Award (one of eight earned by “ONCE”), the lighting was often very subtle. Aside from some color in the background and scenery, the scenes generally lived in a warm or cool white world and the cueing was not overly noticeable, except when it wanted to be.” 

“Our set, designed by Nate Bertone, was much more impressionistic than the original version,” said Pattak. “Our Irish pub is located in a cut-out section of rock. Above that rock, the green grassy hills of Ireland were visible. Since the set was less realistic than the one in the original Broadway show, I felt like we could push the lighting to a wider, more varied place and give it a stronger role."

Pattak endowed the set with the welcoming feel of an Irish pub by lighting it in ambers and oranges. These colors, along with incandescent practicals, accented the wood textures of the set’s bar, chairs and wainscoting, as well as the guitars and piano belonging to the characters. The upper “exterior world” was mainly blues and greens to support the grass and the blue brick surrounding Irish landscape. 

Helping Pattak reshape space were the 10 Ovation E-910FC RGBA-Lime ellipsoidals in his rig. He used half of these units for color changing and low cross lighting -- his “go-to angle” for lighting shows. He relied on two of the fixtures to create full stage diagonal backwash textures that helped tone and break up the space. The remaining four Ovation ellipsoidals created a textured wash on the grassy landscape over the pub. 

“The grass had a dedicated system of green lights that were almost always on, and then sometimes I would add in some blue, purples etc. to give the grass more life,” said Pattak. “This was my second time using the Ovations, and I remain very pleased with the color mixing.”

Pattak also had praise for the two Rogue R2 Wash fixtures that he positioned on FOH truss, using them to create specials throughout the show.

“We actually only ended up using the followspots in our rig for maybe four cues the entire evening,” he said. “The angle of the house followspots is not good, and it just didn’t feel right for the show. Since most of the time the vocalists are stationary when they sing, the two FOH movers did specials for all the songs from a much better angle.”

The remaining eight Rogue R2 Wash fixtures were spread out over the stage and did a variety of tight specials and larger washes.

“They were great for picking out a single violin player or guitar player,” said Pattak. “There is a small ‘dance club’ section at the end of Act 1, which we decided to have some fun with, so we actually moved the Rogues around like you’d find in a nightclub and create saturated colors. That’s the only time the audience saw the fixtures move.”



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