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Clay Paky Sharpy Washes Turn in Winning Performances at the “Miss America Pageant”
Lighting Designer
Allen Branton
Atomic Lighting
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USA – Fifty-three contestants walked the walk on stage at Boardwalk Hall when the 88th “Miss America Pageant” returned to Atlantic City in September.  Two dozen Clay Paky Sharpy Wash fixtures were on hand from Atomic Lighting in Lititz, Pennsylvania for the gala telecast on ABC Television. 

Allen Branton was the lighting designer for the “Miss America Pageant” with Felix Peralta and Kevin Lawson the lighting directors and Laura Frank the screens producer and media programmer.

“It was our eighth year doing the pageant,” says Peralta.  “It’s always a challenge to recreate the excitement of the show; we’re looking to enhance and improve the previous year’s telecast.  With three days devoted to pageant preliminaries, which are not broadcast, we got an opportunity to build the show on site.  Friday and Saturday were camera rehearsal days then Sunday was the live show.”

Kevin Lawson was responsible for the key light and audience light – an important role for a show where 53 young ladies take center stage.  “The show is ultimately about the contestants, and my primary task was to make sure all of them looked good whether 53 girls were out there or one of them was performing in the talent competition,” he notes.  “In a lot of ways the pageant is like an awards show: They want a certain amount of grandeur, and there’s a long-standing tradition behind it.  The show has to be exciting but high quality and dignified.”

With large groups on stage at times Lawson was challenged to not just bathe the scene with light.  “I wanted to shape it enough to make the girls look great and be individually visible,” he explains.

Approximately 24 Sharpy Wash fixtures served as the primary stage wash.  They were hung across the stage and acted as “workhorses” for the show, bathing the contestants with backlight and color, Lawson says.  “They were in pretty much every shot.  I love Sharpys Washes: Their field is consistent, their zoom is great.  They’re bright, the color is constant; they’re easily manipulated and fast.  In fact, they’re good for all shows.”

Felix Peralta, who handled the environment lighting, notes that the Sharpy washes “treated some scenery, too, including the bigger-than-life-size Miss America statue, which had six washes on it.”

John Calkins was the production designer for the “Miss America Pageant.”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, added, “What a group of talented lighting professionals. Allen, Laura, Felix and Kevin are so well respected in this industry and it’s a great honor that they like our equipment as much as they do.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.