Gearhouse shines again at Starlight Classics
SOUTH AFRICA: For the fourth consecutive year, lighting designer Joshua Cutts was involved in Starlight Classics, of which the Cape Town leg recently occurred at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West. Gearhouse Group was once again called upon to supply the technical elements, including main stage and venue lighting, structures, sets, rigging, power and a centre LED Screen, while Keystone Productions’ lighting designer Christopher Bolton collaborated with Mr Cutts.
‘What’s great about Starlight is that JAM Events (the event’s organiser) keeps the same team of people together every year because it’s like a family,’ said Mr Cutts. ‘It’s the show I get to spend in the beautiful setting of the Vergelegen Wine Estate with a well organised crew, who know exactly what they’re doing, because we know how to put the show together.’
At this year’s concert, which was produced by Rand Merchant Bank and featured performances from trumpeter, composer and singer Hugh Masekela and South African born soprano, Pretty Yende, Mr Cutts requested that the rigging and trussing be removed in favour of hanging the lighting individually from the roof structure. This was undertaken by the Gearhouse team, led by senior crewmember Peter Abrahamse.
Gearhouse’s In2structures brand supplied the same dome stage for the event as in previous years, to allow the orchestra to be organised into its specific layout for the show. ‘There are a lot of regular things that we do that work very well,’ commented Mr Cutts. ‘We try to reuse similar set elements and keep the identity of Starlight the same.’
A pair of MA Lighting grandMA2 Lite consoles were utilised at FOH, allowing for multi-user programming. In total, 25 Robin 600 LED Wash lights were employed by Mr Cutts to blanket colour wash over the stage, while seven Robe 2500 ColorWash lights provided the main source of floodlight. The lighting designer also made use of 24 MAC Vipers to administer gobo and beams from the top, with 18 Robin Pointes also producing beams.
‘Many performance pieces required theatrical side lighting and I always use RedWashes for that,’ added Mr Cutts, having deployed 14 of them at Starlight Classics. ‘Because I rig off the structure, making it part of the set element, I used 51 LEDForce 18s to tone the entire truss structure so that I can use it as part of my lighting effects.’
Despite the team having previous experience in rigging Starlight Classics, setup wasn’t entirely a breeze as nature did its best to get in the way, literally. ‘The only challenge I can recall was that one of our front light towers was behind some tree branches,’ chuckled Mr Bolton. ‘You can’t just cut a branch in a forest in Vergelegen, as you have to call in the resident arborist! Once we had the clearance all was smooth sailing, as it always is when we work with Peter and the Gearhouse team.’
Starlight Classics has also become an important event for Gearhouse with regards to it training programme, Gearhouse Learnership. ‘Our students have been supported and welcomed by the both the production team and the company over the years,’ said Ryan Shepherd, project manager at Gearhouse. ‘We are now seeing ex first-year students return to the event as qualified crewmembers. This team supports student growth and offers them every opportunity. It embodies what the event is all about.’