Lexington Baptist Church Uses Chauvet to Help Bring “The Christmas Experience”

by | Audio, AVL Projects, Case Studies, Lighting, Production

A very accomplished painter when she isn’t busy as a LD, Denise Simpson says that she often likes to play with colors to do things a little differently when designing shows. This was beautifully evident this December when she lit “The Christmas Experience,” a well-orchestrated one-hour musical program at the Lexington Baptist Church.

“Often one of the unique ways that I create looks is by slightly offsetting colors in some of my big monochromatic looks,” remarked Simpson. “I generally lean towards monochromatic looks as I am building up the end of a song, and also for those big high energy numbers. I love building bright saturated color scenes. 

“In this case, I choose my color palettes based on how the music felt to me and how the performers and musicians presented the piece,” she continued. “Also, very important to this event, my palettes were chosen by working closely with the media team to compliment the video visuals they were using.”

Following this approach, Simpson, who works for ACS Sound and Lighting, called forth some deeply engaging monochromatic looks that immersed the stage, as well as its backdrop and the ceiling above it, in rich immersive palettes that included classic Christmas reds, as well as nontraditional colors like blues and purples. At other times, she also added an extra level of depth and balance to the stage by segmenting different sections with blocks of color.

Working closely with Jacob Powers, the Media and Technical Director at Lexington Baptist Church, Wes Howard the church’s photographer-videographer, producer Lauren Chambers, and ACS’ JK Edwards, who served as project manager and video director, Simpson achieved these multi-colored looks with the help of 78 CHAUVET Professional fixtures.

Most of these fixtures were already part of Lexington Baptist’s rig, the result of a 2020 install by ACS Sound and Lighting, which has a longstanding relationship with the church. For the 2023 Christmas Experience, however, the design team brought in four COLORado Batten 72 fixtures to use as stage right and stage life foot lighting on the thrust.

“The battens were brought in late in the process, because we wanted added color coverage,” said Simpson. “ We felt that by adding these fixtures it would help bring a bit of color and fullness to the thrust. These fixtures gave support in building drama during solos as well as adding color and energy to the larger numbers featuring the full cast and orchestra.”

Key to the design team’s vision was the idea of tying all of the staging area, not just the thrust, into a single, all-embracive look.  “It is always very important to me to tie everything together,” said Simpson. “In this case, the choir was often highlighted in the service and really needed to be well lit. By using the existing COLORdash Par-Quad 18, Ovation 910s and R2X washes I had various ways to bring color and depth in without compromising the front lighting for the cameras.”

A total of eight COLORdash Par-Quad 18 fixtures were used in the show, along with 46 Ovation E-910FC color-mixing ellipsoidals (with HD lens tubes), 12 COLORado Solo Battens, and eight Rogue R2X Washes.  Speaking of the latter fixture, Simpson noted: “The R2X Wash’s main function was to downlight and backlight, but at times, they were also helpful in being a secondary source for frontlight and specials. The R2Xs became instrumental in helping me create different looks. By focusing them in various locations and using the offset colors and offset beam widths I was able to create different moods and scenes with a limited number of fixtures.”

Drawing on the versatility of this rig, Simpson moved seamlessly through a series of engaging looks that matched the varied performances during the Christmas Experience, which ran a little over one hour and began with two cellists playing a modern instrumental version “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” before introducing the children’s choir, later joined by the full choir and orchestra to perform a contemporary version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” This was followed by a moving rendition of “Mary Did You Know” featuring Rachel Miller and the Worship Leader Tim Bottoms. Closing the program, the full choir and orchestra played an intense contemporary style version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

“Everything about his was an enjoyable,” said Simpson. “It was filled with upbeat, reimagined Christmas music, as well as contemporary worship music. The skilled placement of subtle, intimate style pieces, coupled with the music really made for an engaging experience.” 

Then, of course, there was also the lighting… it supported every facet of this richly textured production in splendid fashion.

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