Mamma Mia! The Musical, Australia

The Opportunity:

Mamma Mia! The Musical is currently playing at the iconic Princess Theatre in Melbourne, with future dates scheduled across the country. In order to create an inspiring lighting display that captures the detailed expressions of actors on stage and simultaneously conveys the energy and emotion of a rock show, lighting designer Gavan Swift needed a powerful, versatile lighting system.

The Solution:

Swift worked with Chameleon Touring Systems and Show Technology to develop a state-of-the-art LED moving light system comprised of Martin by HARMAN MAC Quantum Wash, MAC 101 CT and all-new MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures.

Swift specified the MAC Quantum Wash fixtures for their high output, powerful white LED and their built-in spill ring for minimising lens flare. He chose the MAC 101 CT moving head wash lights for their narrow, soft beam of light and variable colour temperature, which makes them ideal for highlighting skin tones, textiles or set pieces.

The all-new MAC Encore CLD fixtures offer unparalleled 6000 K crisp, neutral daylight—perfect for naturally lighting performers on stage. The variable CTO colour wheel allows Swift to adjust the colour temperature as needed throughout the show. The high CRI keeps costumes looking colourful and skin tones looking natural.

Swift originally planned on deploying MAC Viper Performance fixtures for the front of house positions, as there were no LED fixtures powerful enough to meet his needs—until someone showed him a prototype of the MAC Encore Performance CLD fixture. Swift admits that he initially had some reservations about using the MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures since they were so new, but his doubts vanished the moment he got his hands on one.

Swift was the first in Australia to use Martin MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures in a professional production. Pro lighting distributors Show Technology secured one of the first batches ever produced and flew them to Australia, where Chameleon Touring Systems, one of Australia’s leading specialist production companies, immediately integrated them into the Mamma Mia! lighting rig. According to Swift, the MAC Performance Encore CLD fixtures have been incredibly reliable with excellent colour consistency throughout the tour.

The Impact:

“I have firmly embraced LED technology in moving lights,” said Gavan Swift, Lighting Designer, Mamma Mia! The Musical. “The brightness, colour fidelity and consistency of LEDs are quickly making the old arc-based moving lights obsolete. I didn’t purposely choose all Martin fixtures—I just picked the best LED lights for the job and they all happened to be Martin products.”

“The MAC 101 CTs are one of my favourite fixtures—they produce a narrow, soft beam of light with variable colour temperature,” said Swift. “They’re perfect as re-locatable specials and work well in large musicals and small plays. They’re extremely quiet and fast, and with the optional top hat there’s no extraneous spill.”

“I love the frost effect for gobos on the MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures,” said Swift. “It’s the closest equivalent to Roscolux 132 frost gel that I’ve seen in a moving light. The ability to sharply focus a gobo on a surface, and then wheel in the frost to soften the edge is incredibly useful.”

“The MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures have practically the same feature set as the MAC Viper Performance but with an LED light source,” said Swift. “I was immediately impressed with the brightness of the MAC Encore Performance CLD—it’s perfect for skin tones. It was exactly the light I needed for Mamma Mia! so I put 54 of them on the bid list for the show.”

LED-sourced fixtures have one clear advantage over arc-sourced fixtures—the focus doesn’t shift when fading out the light,” said Swift. “On most arc-sourced moving profiles the edge of the beam changes when fading out or changing intensity due to the mechanical douser in the optical path. The MAC Encore Performance CLD doesn’t have this problem, resulting in accurate fades and a consistent beam edge when fading. Another great thing about the MAC Encore Performance CLD is it doesn’t drain power when it’s not being used in a cue. Unlike arc-based moving lights, where the lamp is turned on at the beginning of the day and runs until the end of the show—drawing power the entire time—the LED moving lights minimal power when the light is off.”

“We are honoured to premier the Martin MAC Encore Performance CLD with an iconic musical like Mamma Mia!,” said Ramesh Jayaraman, VP & GM HARMAN Professional Solutions, APAC. “We thank Show Technology for their strong coordination with Chameleon Touring Systems, and working closely with Gavan Swift who specified an all Martin moving light rig for Mamma Mia! The Musical. We look forward to seeing how Martin lights elevate the audience experience throughout the tour.”