To update his original 2008 lighting design for a modern touring production of Dreamgirls, renowned lighting designer Ken Billington chose the LED-based VLZ fixtures from Vari-Lite, a Signify entertainment lighting brand.
After seeing a demo of the VLZ fixtures, he was satisfied with them as the next-generation luminaire that would reproduce the look and feel of his original Vari-Lite rig. Billington specified 32 VLZ Wash, 22 VLZ Spot and 12 VLZ Profile fixtures to form the show’s entire overhead lighting rig.
“The fixtures are bright,” said Billington, “in fact a bit too bright! We run them at 50-70% most of the time. When you fade the LED, there is no beam degradation, which you would see if there was a shutter dimming a discharge fixture.”
A key aim for this production was recreating the original colour palette, which the VLZs matched well. “The colours are really clear, clean colours that don’t muddy the beam or hurt light output,” said lighting programmer, Jackson Miller.
The VLZ’s four-blade framing system was also praised. “It’s impressive how much beam control you can get without compromising the soft edge of the wash or the intensity,” said associate lighting designer, Ben Travis.
“The shutters are pretty great,” agreed Miller. “They all seem to exist on the same plane, optically speaking. All four can be sharp at once, which is some sort of amazing witchcraft, considering every other full-frame shutter unit I’ve seen will only sharpen to one or two at a time.” Overall, the fixtures have been widely welcomed by the Dreamgirls lighting team. “The quality is great,” concluded Travis. “They have met, and exceeded our expectations.”