Three leading West End/Broadway theatre lighting designers are using GLP’s new impression X5 Wash – all supplied by Paul Anderson at Sparks Theatrical Hire – to light current or upcoming shows.
Leading the charge was Paule Constable, who originally requested them for Guys and Dolls at London’s Bridge Theatre. This has been followed by Tim Lutkin, who is responsible for lighting The Crucible at the Gielgud Theatre, and Paul Pyant, who is in production for Noises Off at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
“These are three highly respected designers,” observes Anderson, himself a premier theatre lighting design specialist. “Early on in the [Guys and Dolls] process we approached Paule to see what equipment she would desire. As she had just lit a show on Broadway where she used the impression X5s, she requested them.”
Sparks ordered the 30 units well in advance, knowing there was a global component shortage, as Anderson himself was also keen to put them through their paces: “We knew the impression X4 Washes and obviously we have tons of impression X4 Bar 20 battens in our rental stock. But in the end the X5s were only in the warehouse for two days, for barcoding and testing, before going straight out onto the show.”
However, that was all he needed to test drive the next generation Wash, with its innovative iQ.Gamut algorithm and lime chip representing a huge step forward. The chassis also contains 19 powerful 40W LEDs to provide enormous power output and provides a super-fast zoom.
“I put them through their paces, comparing them with other models we have, and felt they were more like the Audi of wash lights, whereas others were just functional like a Ford Escort. This was clearly a next level up. They are a very beautiful light – the subtle hues we were getting from some of the more delicate pastel colours was really amazing to see… that lime chip really makes a difference.
“I also thought the dimming was really beautiful, particularly the bottom end, which with LED fixtures is quite important in theatre – that really subtle fading out and fading in. I loved the way it moved, with no jumps, no steps. We have always really liked GLP’s build quality and reliability and, all in all, it just felt like a really solid, well-engineered bit of kit.”
But, he adds, none of the latest wizardry is worth investing in if there is no-one there to support it. “Simon [Barrett] and his team run such a brilliant after sales service – they understand how it works on our side of the industry and that’s really important.”
Sparks appears to have nailed its colours to the mast. “Having purchased 30, we are about to buy some more [for Noises Off],” says Anderson, adding that he believes the impression X5 is a product worth investing in.
Although that investment will be recouped by the length of Guys and Dolls’ run alone, Paul Anderson is highly discerning when it comes to purchases: “Having been in the industry since I was 14 and been around the block, I’m quite fussy. The ethos of Sparks is about quality – everyone that works here has worked on the other side of the industry, so know what it’s like when you get shabby kit. I would rather save and buy one light that’s the best we can afford than two of a cheaper model. GLP was already a brand we trusted and I was further reassured by the support I knew we would get. Therefore, on the back of Paule’s recommendation and me having looked at them, there was no issue really.”
The impression X5 is already finding its way into different types of live show, but did Anderson consider that it met all the requirements for theatre? He has no doubts: “GLP have certainly thought about all the parameters that we would require in a theatrical environment: pastel, subtle shades, dimming are all paramount for theatre.”
“In fact it’s a really lovely, sexy unit and everyone here is very impressed with it,” he concludes.
Photo credit: Guys and Dolls (Manuel Harlan)