NORTHPORT, NY – As a boy in Broadalbin, New York, Keith Truax loved listening to the CD of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical. While being swept up by Frank Wildhorn’s bold, unabashedly passionate score, he often found himself dreaming of one day being involved in a production of this theatrical take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of good and evil.
Dreams do indeed come true when you grow up to become a talented lighting designer. Truax has been earning widespread praise for his current work lighting Jekyll & Hyde The Musical at Long Island’s popular John W Engeman Theater. Fittingly, his dramatic contrast of colors is endowing the stage with a transformative dream-like quality that underscores the musical’s good-evil dichotomy. Helping him achieve this powerful effect is a collection of Ovation, Maverick and Rogue fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
“I’ve always been a fan of this show, in part because of the interplay of such powerful and conflicting emotional forces at play in it,” said Truax. “These forces are conveyed throughout the show with color. Color is an integral part of my design. I am not afraid to put color onstage. One of the main themes of my design for this show was the blue changing to blue-green as Jekyll’s world starts to decay and transition into Hyde’s world. Of course, Hyde’s color is pure red, which allows us to have a clear distinction between him and Jekyll.”
The six Ovation E-910FC RGBA-Lime ellipsoidals in the Jekyll & Hyde rig were critical to helping Truax convey these mood changes in color. “I was excited to use the lime LEDs in the Ovation fixtures,” he said. “I never went and adjusted the lime diode used in the fixtures; I select my colors by gel numbers. Then from there I adjust the hue sat. The lime diode does allow me to create some wonderful pastel colors that I just was never able to achieve with RGB-only fixtures.”
In addition to the Ovation color-mixing ellipsoidals, Truax used six Ovation E-260WW high-output warm white ellipsoidals, as well as a collection of tungsten fixtures. “I am a huge fan of the LED ellipsoidals,” he said. “I love the flexibility that they give me as a designer. I find that when you are using the more saturated colors, the LEDs are far better than a traditional incandescent fixture with gels.”
Truax is also using an impressive collection of moving fixtures in his design. He positions two Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures on the FOH truss, three Rogue R2 Washes on the second electrical, two Rogue R2 Washes and one Maverick MK2 Spot on the third electrical, and a single Rogue R2 Wash on the fourth electrical.
“The MK2 Spots have been a workhorse in this show,” he said. “Their punch and color mixing is really wonderful. Not only are they great to have for moveable specials, but even with a gobo and prism in them they still have a wonderful punch. I am not using all of the gobos that the fixtures come with. I change out three of them for ones that I tend to use more. These are Construction, Sand Trail and Plaid.”
For this production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Truax is relying on the two Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures on the FOH truss for movable special effects and for texture washes. “When we drop the prism in these fixtures we can cover the majority of the stage from the FOH position,” he said. “There have been very few scenes where the Mavericks weren’t used in some capacity.”
Several critical scenes in this production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical take place behind semi-transparent screens. This was part of director Paul Stancato’s creative vision for the production. Lighting played a key role in making these scenes impactful.
“Paul had definite ideas on how he wanted to use shadow play,” said Truax. “This was supported with lighting. We have ellipsoidals hidden within the set and a three-fixture rolling platform to provide back lighting when characters are behind screens. We also use Rogue R2 Washes with a narrow beam to call out actors behind the screens. This allows us to get very different images. At times we want the audience to see who’s behind the screen, while at other times we want to play tricks on them and not reveal the character’s identity.”
The change in perspective that Truax brings about with lighting adds power to the dichotomous narrative of Jekyll & Hyde. “I want our lighting to heighten the world created in this story by highlighting the duality of good and evil,” he said. “I think the lighting evokes a visceral reaction in the audience to the transformations that take place on stage.”
For Truax, though, there was nothing dualistic or ambiguous about the chance to be a part of this production. It was pure joy. “This is quite literally a dream come true,” he said. “The cast and creative team have made it even more special. I can’t say enough about Richard T. Dolce, the producing artistic director, Pat Hayes, the associate lighting designer and programmer, and too many more people to mention. I am so thrilled to cross this wonderful experience off my bucket list.”