The Huntington Theatre Company hosts their annual Spotlight Spectacular gala to support all of the theatre’s programs, including their youth, education, and community initiatives. Spotlight Spectacular 2017 took place at the Cyclorama, a large round facility in Boston that once housed a large diorama. Every year, High Output provides the scenic elements, lighting, rigging, staging, and video for the gala. Rafanelli Events and the HTC marketing department develop a theme for the event, and this year they wanted a lush cabaret-like feeling. Instead of a traditional stage with a back drop, we transformed the Cyclorama into a proscenium-like theater with wings. Part of what drove this design was the program, as the talent for the 2017 gala focused more on individual performers, rather than the large ensembles featured in previous years.
The “theater” we constructed created an intimate space for the singers and musicians, reminiscent of a cabaret. The front “valance curtain” over the stage was actually a 24′ long by 4′ tall video marquee, constructed using our Elation 6mm video wall tiles. We were able to create a successful old-timey feel using this advanced new technology. For example, the graphic content we provided for the video wall included retro chasing lights, logos, and introductions. To provide an even more immersive experience, we also installed well over 300 “antique” tear drop incandescent lamps at varying heights throughout the space.
Challenges and Solutions
- Acoustics. The space is round and has a brick floor and steel and iron ceiling – all very reflective surfaces. To soften the room, High Output placed 12′ black velour around the entire perimeter of the space and worked with Rafanelli Events to install carpeting. The key to the solution was a good sound system the with appropriate gain structure.
- Schedule. This year Cyclorama’s event schedule mandated an overnight load in, which required scheduling two completely separate crews. What would normally be a two day load in was shortened by almost 6 hours. All of the work overhead had to be completed by 7am in order to get the carpet installed and the tables placed. Rehearsals were scheduled for 1pm and doors were at 6pm. It was a very tight schedule. In years past we would load in at 8am the day prior to the event, finish the install, and then have that evening to focus and cue the lighting. This year we had to focus the lighting the day of the event. The cyclorama has a glass ceiling, so we were cueing the show with very challenging ambient light. Despite this our design team did a great job and the lighting turned out exactly as planned.
- Performance Stage. One of the major challenges in the Cyclorama is that you cannot use chain motors, as there is no rigging. The stage structure had to be built on the ground and the lifted into the air (using ST-25 lifts) in order to attach the support legs. The majority of the lighting and scenic equipment also had to be installed utilizing lifts. This presents challenges with both the tight space and time constraints, but everything was completed on schedule.