Showtools International and CHAUVET Professional Add New Dimension to Melbourne Recital Centre

Walking down Sturt Street, it is all but impossible not to be intrigued by the three-story building at the corner of Southbank Boulevard. One look at the Melbourne Recital Hall, with its steel and glass lattice façade resembling a honeycomb, and playfully designed white frame defying rigid conventions, instantly tickles the imagination.

Inside, the multi-award winning venue, the aesthetics are just as impressive, only now with a more serious bent. The walls of its shoe box shaped main theatre, for example, are covered with beautiful, routed timber, carved with a level of precision worthy of precious stones. The 3D textured paneling isn’t only stunning visually, however, it also optimizes acoustics.

In 2021, the 12-year old music venue’s lighting system was upgraded to match its other outstanding qualities, when it had Showtools International install a collection of CHAUVET Professional Rogue and Maverick fixtures.

This move was the culmination of a quest by the Melbourne Recital Centre’s lighting team, led by Head of Operations Jasja van Andel, to find products that would enhance the facility’s lighting rig so they could create the big looks required for modern shows. After an extensive search for fixtures, and an onsite demonstration by Showtools International, they elected to have 12 Rogue R1 Beam fixtures and eight Maverick MK1 Hybrid units installed

“First thing we noticed was the size and weight of the fixture, Harrison Cope, senior lighting technician at the Melbourne Recital Centre, said of the Rogue R1 Beam Wash. “The pan and tilt movement is super quick, and despite their small size, they are very punchy. The 3.7⁰ to 67.7⁰ zoom range gives them great versatility. We’ve used them as beam fixtures on a hip hop act, footlights for a dance performance, and as a side wash on booms for general stage coverage. The color spectrum is excellent!”

With COVID lockdowns impacting audience capacity, the Recital Centre has increased the recording of shows for online viewing. The Rouge R1 Beam fixtures have proven themselves invaluable in delivering camera-friendly light.

“We’re doing a lot of streaming these days, and it’s been great having the R1s available,” said Harrison. “They work well as eye candy pointing at the camera; or we can use the wide zoom to highlight the stage and room architecture to create depth and interest behind the performers. They are flicker free, which has kept our video team very happy.”

The 440-watt Maverick MK1 Hybrid fixtures in the upgraded rig are used as a spots and beams, creating stunning aerial effects, in addition to decorating the stage with gobo patterns, according to Harrison.

“Normally with a hybrid fixture there is a tradeoff between the spot, beam and wash features, but with the Maverick does all three really well,” he said. “We get everything from the super tight beams you’d expect from a dedicated beam fixture, to a nice smooth wash that can be used for front light. It’s also great to have a full animation wheel in the fixture, I’m a big fan of that type of effect, so I’m glad Chauvet fit one in with all the other features.”

Audiences at the Melbourne Recital Centre are probably not going to marvel at the site of the fixtures in the venue’s new rig, the way they do at its charming exterior and intricate inside walls, but once the house lights go down and the stage comes alive, the results will be just as captivating.