The art of the reveal

A friend of my wife invited us to see the Broadway musical called ‘Rock of Ages.’  I wasn’t too excited about attending since it involved driving downtown to the fancy performing arts center, fighting the traffic, paying for parking and just the general hassle of it all.  But I learned long ago: happy wife = happy life.  We had seats on the second row, dead center of a performance hall that held 2400 people in the lap of luxury.  Let’s just say this is a very nice facility.

I knew something was different as we headed for our seats and I had to step over huge bundles of power and sound cables.  As we sat down I notice the GIGANTIC speaker column arrays on each side of the stage.  All the lights over the stage were suspended from temporary light trusses.   I made a quick trip to the restroom and walked by ‘master control ‘ at the back of the hall.  Instead of tapping into the fancy light board and sound system the facility provided, they brought their own  I realized this was a traveling show, they had no idea what to expect from any venue so they simply brought everything with them.  Bottom line was they were in full control of the show no matter where they were.  Smart.

The show was dazzling.  It’s amazing what you can see when seated right in the front.  The attention to detail was evident in every scene.  Lots of great music you could literally feel because of the huge sound system.

I became fascinated by the lighting.  Rock of Ages had all the standard fixtures you see at a concert plus many static lights used in the props on stage.  Every scene used new lights I hadn’t noticed before.  Many scenes used the same lights but at different levels or flashing in a different pattern.  With the final scene came the grand finale when all the lights came on.  Did I mention it was dazzling???  Believe me, it was.  My eyes and ears still hurt.

As I thought about the show driving home it hit me I was seeing the results of work done by the professions show designers.  They cleverly kept showing new lighting tricks but never let loose of everything until the very end.  I never got bored with the show.  They knew what they were doing by keeping me interested and eager to see what would happen next.

It’s the art of the reveal.

When the reveal is done right, it’s something to remember.  The challenge is most of us are so eager to show off what we can do, we let people see everything right away, leaving nothing to hold their attention, much less wow them at the end of the show.

As you create your light shows, remember you’re telling a story.  Start with a simple light pattern and let it build as the music unfolds.  Don’t show off everything you can do until the story demands it… which is usually at the end.  It’s the last thing your audience will see and sure to remember.  When people remember what you’ve done they’ll tell others and your audience will build with every performance.  Bingo!



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