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Clay Paky fixtures light up “Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour”
Lighting Designer
Patrick Woodroffe
Feld Entertainment & Kenny Ortega
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A complement of Clay Paky lighting fixtures has been selected for “Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour,” a live fusion of songs, dance and team-spirited fun inspired by the pop-culture sensation and Disney Channel Original Movies, “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 2.”  The show, produced by Feld Entertainment and Kenny Ortega, made its world premiere in New York City September 29 as part of an unprecedented global tour featuring three companies playing more than 100 cities across the US and locations in Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia and Europe.  The ice tour will include never-before-seen choreography, costumes, lighting, special effects, projection and scenery.

345 Clay Paky full-automated fixtures in three identical rigs include 115 fixtures per show, 37 Alpha Spot HPE 1200s, 61 Alpha Wash 1200s, and 17 Alpha Wash 575s.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have used every kind of light known to man,” says Dennis Flenniken, electrical operations manager at Feld Entertainment, Inc., the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment.  Feld Entertainment draws 25 million people to its shows each year; productions have appeared in 50 countries and on six continents to date and include “Disney On Ice,” “Disney Live!,” “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey” and “Doodlebops Live!”

“Clay Paky fixtures stand up to any light touring, and the new Alpha Series is just unbelievable.  For ‘Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour,’ we did three identical shows, each with 115 active fixtures.  The Alpha Series has many effects — nobody has as many spinning and rotating gobos — so lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe was able to create beautiful swimming effects and sunlight.”

Lighting programmer Patrick Dierson calls the show “very much a hybrid: a very theatrically-staged show that breaks out into musical numbers in an arena environment.  It’s not quite theatrical, not quite a concert but very much both at the same time.”  He was tasked with “lighting the faces of all the skaters in the cast — energetic teens who are difficult to distinguish from each other — and keeping things bright so the audience can see while maintaining a good amount of coverage.”  He also needed to “combine a big, bold wash look with rock ’n roll flyouts to the audience with ballyhoos and effects.  We had to keep up the intensity while creating moods.”

According to Dierson, “this is Feld’s first lighting rig to be completely automated, with no conventional units.”  The team, specified Clay Paky fixtures “based on their reliability — I’ve had a phenomenal run of reliability with them.  For ‘Disney’s High School Musical: The Ice Tour,’ we’re beating on them pretty hard.  They take a lot of abuse with no problems.”

He says the Clay Paky “washes are bright and punchy, with good beam shaping; they do a lot of tricks.  The Alpha Spot HPE units have a really great amount of gobos and a variety of patterns — which didn’t look like disco gobos — which gives us a lot of flexibility: This is the first time we didn’t have to specify all the gobos in the unit.”

In addition, “the Alpha Spot HPE units have some great built-in effects which is nice when you’re programming because you’re not as reliant on the console,” says Dierson.  “And the effects are randomized enough so they don’t look repeated.”

He also finds “the optical clarity of the typical Clay Paky fixture to be high quality with a lot of output.  They punch right through other wash lights, and have consistent colors across the board so we didn’t have to custom mix.  They all dialed in extremely consistently.  Everyone liked the way they looked.”

In the opinion of Feld’s Flenniken, “the Clay Paky fixtures are brighter than similar lights in terms of what the eye perceives in amount of lumens.”  That means a small but powerful lighting rig enabled his team to “load in at 8 a.m. and be ready to go at noon.  We used to take 10-12 hours!

“Everyone at Clay Paky has been absolutely fabulous from the top on down,” he concludes.  “All the people we’ve dealt with have been very service oriented.”

High School Musical has recently won the first ever Excellence In Live Design Awards – in the “Theatre” category – chosen among nominees for outstanding achievement in design on projects from September 2006 to August 2007. The honors provided an interactive way for industry professionals to recognize their peers by casting their votes online among five design categories (concert, theatre, venues, broadcast, corporate).

Clay Paky’s Manager Francesco Romagnoli says, “We nominated this production for three reasons, the quantity of product—three shows around the world with a total of 345 Clay Paky lights—our long and wonderful relationship with Feld Entertainment, and for the beautiful design, thanks to Patrick Woodroffe and Patrick Dierson. All of them are Clay Paky friends, and everyone deserves the recognition.”