Continued from August  2012 CTI Newsletter

SHoW DMX SHoW Babys® On The Super Why Live Tour


Produced by:  S2BN Entertainment
Written and Directected by:  Glenn Orsher
Scenic Designer:  David Gallo
Lighting Designer:  Mike Baldassari
Production Supervisor:  Mike Bauder
Programmer:  Paul Turner
Assistant Lighting Designer:  Karen Spahn
Production Electrician:  Christopher Nimm
Lighting Vendor:   PRG NJ, Dolly Alonso Account Rep

We spoke with Lighting Designer Mike Baldassari about his design.

CTI:  What were the general parameters and design needs for the project (what did you need to do)?


 MB:  When designing a family entertainment show that is primarily meant for children, one of the things that I always keep in mind is that for most of the kids in the audience, it's their first time EVER being in a theatre setting.  I consider that to be an honor and so I think it's very important to keep it fun, festive, and not ever scary.  Also, I try to use color to help inform whats going on.  For example, often there are "introduction songs" where each character is introduced and by assigning a color to each character that appears whenever they're featured, helps the audience to follow what's going on.

Another aspect that I think is an important consideration when designing these types of shows is the age of the parents that are bringing their kids to their very first show.  They mostly tend to be late 20s to late 30s, so they've grown up with lots of music, concerts and theatrical sytle lighting on television and in film.  The end result is that the part of the audience that is actually buying the tickets are really well versed in what's a good show.  So not only do the kids have BS detectors (they alway do), but the young parents do as well.

Generally we see the same response play out over-and-over in a "typical" YouTube video that a family will post after seeing a show.  In some variation or another, there's the Mom holding the video camera shooting the kid - who's going nuts seeing their favorite characters live.  Then you hear the Mom say - "Wow - this is so much better then I expected" and she pans to the Dad who says "Yeah, I think I'm having more fun than the kid!!!".

So while I always try and tailor what I can for the kids, it's also important to reach out to the parents aesthetic as well.


CTI:  Were there specific design, budget, time, or physical constraints that you had to work within?

MB:  We used six SHoW Babies in total.  One is a transmitter and four are built into the Why Flyers - which are the airplanes that characters use to “fly into a book”.  Within the Why Flyers, we’re using the SHoW Babies to control the many elements in each airplane, including LED lights on the wings and in the cockpits, smoke machines in the rear, as well as the robotics that control each of the characters arms and heads.  Additionally, one flyer also has a propeller that we turn on and off.

The sixth SHoW Baby controls three PRG Best Boys on the Balcony Rail.  We needed lights on the balcony so I could light the show drop (since foot lights weren't an option),  as well as have custom gobos of the “Super Letters” appear in the house.  I specifically chose the Best Boy since they are the only fixture with that much punch that can run on 110V.  So we used house circuits to power the units and a SHow Baby to get the DMX to the FOH Rail wirelessly.  By eliminating all the cable required for the Balcony Rail, we saved a very large cable trunk in the truck as well as the long and often cumbersome load-in and load-out time to run power and data from backstage to the Balcony Rail.  This was a great solution that worked seamlessly on all of the stops of the initial run-out tour.


CTI:  Did you do any preliminary testing?

MB:  PRG ran the demo that I got for the Best Boy on a Show Baby so I saw the elements work together, plus I’ve used City Theatrical wireless equipment in the past, so I was confident that the wireless element would not be a problem.

CTI:  What was your overall experience in working with City Theatrical equipment on your production?

MB:  Everything performed as expected, so there were no issues - and it seemed like it was very easy for the Production Electrician to integrate the SHoW Babies into the rest of the lighting package.

Watch a video of Mike in the PRG shop  (And lots of other Super Why Videos on YouTube)

No power cables or data cables were run to the balcony rail to run these 110V
PRG Best Boys.  Existing outlets in that location provided power, and SHoW
DMX SHoW Babys provided data.  Hours of load in and load out time were
saved and at least one complete crate of cable was eliminated.

Mike Baldassari's colorful lighting for the Super Why Live tour.

Super Why Live
Show photos courtesy of S2BN Entertainment