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Robert John Baker lights “Addams Family” musical with Chauvet
Robert John Baker was called upon to light “Addams Family”, an Andrew Lippa musical based on the famously eccentric clan, at the historic (121-year old) Casino Theatre in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.
“Before designing this show, I went back and watched some of the old ‘Addams Family’ programs and the film to see the world through their perspective”, he says. “The way they saw the world was quite different than what we deem to be normal. I wanted that to inform my design.”
Helping him convey the family’s emotions, while creating a sense of mystery around them were the Chauvet Professional Ovation E-910FC ellipsoidal and Rogue R1X Wash in his rig. The Ovation fixtures were attached to the proscenium and focused on the center stage. “The amber and lime color mixing options in the E-910FC allowed me to create a range of tones”, says Baker. “I also used these fixtures to colorize some of my props, which was essential to evoking different feelings.”
Key lighting characters from different angles was a way Baker created an air of mystery and emotion on stage. “Taking a different approach to key lighting was important”, he says. “For example, when Morticia is frustrated with Gomez for keeping secrets, I lit her straight down, creating shadows on her face thus intensifying her look of anger.”
At other points in the show, Baker used side lighting to cast shadows on characters such as Lucas and Wednesday, when the couple discussed keeping their marriage a secret. This allowed Pugsley to lurk in the shadows (with the help of a lot of haze), only to emerge later to interrupt their private conversations. In another part the production, when Fester and the ancestors are crossing the stage, Baker relied on up lighting to cast shadows on the cyc behind them, creating the illusion that the number of ghosts present was greater than it appeared.
A pair of Rogue R1X Wash fixtures from Baker’s own inventory were instrumental in helping him achieve these effects. “I placed the Rouges in the balcony and used them for face lighting the actors”, he says. “Also, the flexibility of the fixture coupled with the beam angles allowed me to not only wash a group of actors, but also served as a spotlight for several cues in the show.”
(Photos: Chauvet Professional)
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