Chameleon battle the elements on West Side Story


After eight years of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (HOSH), Opera Australia presented West Side Story, the first musical to be performed on the iconic harbour-side stage. For every one of the nine productions over the years, Chameleon Touring Systems has been an integral part of the design process, supplying lighting and crew for what can be a difficult set up. For West Side Story John Rayment was appointed lighting designer. This year, the action was pushed quite downstage and the large set elements restricted the full use of the standard north and south ‘goalpost’ lighting positions. The downstage five lanterns of each of the two truss runs on both goalposts did the bulk of the work from these positions (that is 10 per side) with the remainder of the lanterns doing more set dressing and space shaping duties. Each goalpost held 13 Martin MAC III Performance and 14 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500Q Spot.

The 25 metre angled backlight run under the freeway structure presented particular issues: every group tilt preset of the 20 Martin MAC2000 Wash XB had to be individually composed since no two lanterns had the same angle of throw. The centre FOH tower is always a compromise between the rigged movers on the outside and the followspots inside as the followspots have to make their shots between the two levels of lighting trusses, which means they rig differently than the other FOH towers. Each of the three FOH towers held a mixture of Claypaky Alpha 1500, VL3000 Spot and VL3500Q. The side followspots on the goalposts are less powerful than the four FOH ones – 2.5K vs 4K. This has to do with physical conditions as you simply cannot swing a long instrument like a 4K around up there to make the range of pick-ups required, due to the position housing structure. Chameleon cannot send out most of their latest and best fixtures to a gig where they are hammered by a hostile environment. Fortunately this year, Chameleon had their new IP-rated PROLIGHTS Panorama which proved to be a bit of a star!

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