Ayrton Perseo-S compact multi-function luminaires developed for intensive outdoor use made their US debut at the Public Works musical adaptation of “Hercules” in the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Tyler Micoleau selected the new fixtures, with an IP65 enclosure rating, for the Labor Day weekend production, which traditionally wraps a summer of Shakespeare in the Park outdoor shows. ACT Lighting Inc. is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton products in North America.
“Hercules” was based on the Disney animated film and featured the entire score plus several new songs. The production was from The Public Theater’s Public Works initiative, which invites communities across New York to create ambitious participatory theater. More than 200 New Yorkers took part in the dynamic production.
The show marked the first time that Tyler Micoleau used Ayrton fixtures. He has worked on three other productions at the Delacorte, including two previous Public Works shows.
“We historically have used a mostly conventional rig but have now migrated to LEDs and movers like a lot of the industry,” he says. “But they are more fragile outdoors. So we were interested in what was available with an IP65 enclosure rating. We knew that moving from housings that make it very labor intensive and impractical to swap out lights to a weather-resistant fixture was a big deal.”
According to Alex Brandt, Lighting Supervisor for The Public Theater, “we swap about one moving light a day in the park that’s non-IP rated. A humid day can be as bad for them as a rainstorm.”
After ACT Lighting showed Micoleau the Perseo-S he staged a shootout with several other similarly-rated lights in Central Park one evening. “I was excited to see how Perseo would perform against other moving lights, and Perseo blew the others out of the water. Its LED source was more powerful than an arc source. It had everything going for it: brightness and speed in a very small package.”
“They were very impressive in the shootout,” concurs Brandt. “The brightness really stood out.”
Micoleau explains that since “Hercules” was a full-blown musical with 16 numbers the lighting rig had to provide “the dynamics we needed; it had to be fast moving, color changing and have visible beams – things not available in a typical Delacorte rig package.” Micoleau’s rig boasted almost 700 conventional fixtures, 30 moving heads and a number of LED PARs.
He obtained two Perseo-S fixtures from ACT Lighting and placed them in low, downstage vom positions where they provided direct front light. “They gave us the most bang for the buck there,” he says, “and they performed marvelously. We had a lot of lights, and the two Perseos had to cut through and contribute to the composition. I often try to do that with three or four lights, but there was no space for that many fixtures from the low angle of the Delacorte.”
Micoleau especially liked Perseo’s “extraordinary number of gobos. From their position we could splash texture on the Greek columns on set and tone and texture the whole environment. Hercules had to fight four enormous puppets in the show. With Perseo we were able to dapple the air space with gobos in very dramatic patterns. The result was very dynamic and often terrifying as the giant puppets floated through textured light.”
The production experienced several instances of inclement weather. “We focused the entire show in the pouring rain, and three performances had inclement weather – one of them was held up for an hour because of it. Not every light in the rig survived the adverse conditions, but Perseo performed great with no covers, no hood, no bubbles,” Micoleau reports.
“ACT and Ayrton did a fantastic job making sure the lights, which were a last-minute addition, arrived in time,” notes Brandt. “They also made sure we had support to get profiles for the lights and were incredibly responsive to any issues in programming and set up. The show was a huge success, and through the generosity of ACT and Ayrton we put together a design that we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish otherwise.”
Micoleau says he hopes “to see whole systems of Perseos in park settings and outdoor venues. I can also easily use them indoors.” ACT Lighting plans a wider Ayrton demo at The Public Theater that Micoleau is excited to see. “I’m eager to play around with other Ayrton fixtures,” he says. “It’s a new brand for me, and I want to see more.”
Brandt notes that the Perseos didn’t even come up in post-show discussions, which was a very good sign. “They just worked!” he says. “They made a really promising debut with us, and we’ll be looking more in Perseo’s direction in the future.”
“After talking with Tyler and Jimmy about upcoming projects earlier in the summer, I broke the news about the Perseo’s imminent launch. The Delacorte was the perfect venue to showcase the fixtures, and to be able to support Tyler, Alex, and the Public Works production series was an absolute joy. These were the first Perseo fixtures put on a show in the US and it came off as a resounding success, which I can credit to the team at ACT and the Public,” concludes ACT Northeast Regional Sales James Suit.
Jimmy Lawlor was the show’s Associate Lighting Designer. Dane Laffrey was the Scenic Designer and Andrea Hood was the Costume Designer.