Lightswitch designed media content for the show in its second collaboration with The Judds. Reprising its design for “The Last Encore” tour, Lightswitch customized the existing media to suit the theater’s movie screen backdrop and added fresh content for the new numbers. “An important part of the show was bringing back the tour experience and reprising it for a theatrical setting. This time it was in the Venetian theater, which has a more traditional feeling than most touring venues. It was about making the show about the two women, and what made it special for them to be able to perform together for possibly the last time,” explains Lightswitch designer Austin Shapley.
“In terms of the media design, we focused on establishing aesthetics and location, and then letting them settle in. Their history together is something they really wanted to enjoy. They like to connect to the audience by engaging in those memories. For instance, there were a couple of songs in the show that speak to their history. We put up a picture of their family home and it provided them with a talking point,” says Shapley. The show also included new songs from Wynonna’s upcoming album, Wynonna & the Big Noise. “The new content was the highest energy part of the show,” adds Shapley. “We got to rock out with the media and get more active and engaging, because the new music has a lot of Wynonna’s strong energy in it. What was cool is that it provided an opportunity for new generations of fans to experience The Judds live who had never been able to before..”
Lightswitch coordinated the content with lighting designer Craig Rutherford and video director Phil Dougherty, resulting in a cohesive design that showcased these two incredible artists. “Austin and I worked closely together to match the colors of the video content with the lights, and one of our primary goals was to make sure that the energy level of the lights and video never became a distraction with the legendary performers on stage. At the same time we wanted to do our best to emphasize the sometimes rockin' upbeat songs, and I think we achieved a harmonious balance of energy and softer, intimate moments,” notes Rutherford.
“As for the lighting design, there was no budget for rentals of any sort or any time in which to build a custom set, so we had to make do with what we had onsite,” says Rutherford. “Underneath the large front-projected video screen, I placed several lighting towers with not only some movers, but also 16 PARs with wide lenses for audience washing effects and some soft ‘twinkly’ light behind the performers. They were a perfect way to emphasize the softer side of the performance.”
Rutherford also used the MAC III AirFXs as the primary washlight for most of the show. “They have a versatile gobo wheel as well, so to switch things up on a few songs and keep the lighting fresh I switched to the Auras for washlights and used the AirFXs for texture around the stage,” he adds. Clay Paky Sharpys were used as washlight for several songs, by inserting both the prism and the frost filter to make a narrow yet soft-edged beam of light that drew attention to the performers and solos. Viper Profiles were Rutherford’s main spot fixture because of their “really solid color mixing and great feature set,” he says.
Using a combination of existing and new content—including family photos and memories—and thoughtfully integrated lighting, the team created a scenic environment that was a tribute to the artists’ past and a look forward to their future.
Photos: Austin Shapley
34 Martin MAC Viper Profiles
18 Martin MAC III AirFXs
30 Martin MAC Auras
4 Martin Atomic 3000 Strobes
49 Clay-Paky Sharpys
4 Robert Juliat followspots
2 grandMA2 consoles
2 Green Hippo Hippotizer Media Servers
2 Barco 30k Projectors