When New Orleans- based Lightwire Theater premiered their groundbreaking combination of dance, EL wire and wireless dimming on America’s Got Talent, the judges had nothing but praise. Sharon Osborne said: “That was spectacular in every sense of the word.” Howie Mandel had his own brand of praise: “Three letters. W. O. W. Just wow.” And finally, the inimitable Howard Stern explained, “It’s electronic, it’s lights, it’s dance and it’s a great show.”
The firm, founded by performers Ian Carney and Corbin Popp, produces five shows that tour worldwide: Dino-Light, The Ugly Duckling, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey, A Very Electric Christmas and The Show. All the productions are centered around elaborate EL wire costumes and, of course, dance. “For us, high technology is not the show, the high technology expands the show and moves the story forward,” states Carney.
However, technology is an integral part of the production, and that means a different set of concerns as opposed to conventional theater and dance. “Being in theater, so much depends on everything working,” says Carney.
Due to the nature of the show, it was natural for the company to venture into the wireless realm. Carney explains: “When we first began working wirelessly, we started with a keychain remote that will dim something that was about $30. That was our ‘OK we’ll trust this one little set piece,’ and that began our journey into the world of wireless.”
As the productions became more complex, Lightwire needed more wireless for the costumes, as well as for the set pieces, props, and lasers. Carney continues: “A long time ago, we told the team at RC4 Wireless that we were looking for not just a vendor, but we’re looking for a partner, and wanted to know if they were willing to be that partner? We tour full year and tour internationally, but we’re not a Cirque company. When we call you on the phone, will you be willing to answer?” The reply from RC4 was a resounding “Yes.” Carney adds: “For a relatively small investment, you are in a very solid world with RC4; they have great tech support and are an organization who is going to be a partner with you. The quality, the service, and the flexibility are there for a company like ours. RC4 Wireless is not just for the big businesses.”
For their various productions, “We use RC4Magic Series 3 transceivers with four and two-channel dimmers; we wire into the drive system that is necessary for EL wire. The characters turn themselves on and off with sliders on their costumes,” Carney explains. He also uses them for the EL wire infused sets. “I can plug the DMX cable into the set, and I can program the RC4 Wireless box with my slider board for that show. It’s as simple as that. And when I’m not doing that show, I can use the boxes on one of our other shows,” he says.
Lightwire Theater also uses the RC4 gear with their lasers. Carney notes: “I can change the cues, program the board, and, using the RC4Magic two channel receiver at the laser, I can actuate the laser cues from backstage.”
Carney and the Lightwire team are using the RC4 Wireless dimmers and transceivers in a very straightforward manner. “The products are as low tech as you want or as high tech. I’m not even scratching the surface of what RC4 products can do and it’s changed the way we can make shows.”
All the Lightwire Theater productions travel the world, from Canada to Abu Dhabi, and everywhere in between, and the wireless transceivers/dimmers are thrust into less than ideal conditions. Carney says: “All the RC4 Wireless units are being stored in non-climate controlled environments, on things like ships going to China. If they’re sitting in a trailer and it’s freezing cold or it’s really hot, it doesn’t matter; we’ve never had an issue.”
Lightwire Theater has a bright future in front of them, and it includes RC4 Wireless. “We’re premiering a new show next year, and we want to learn more about what we can do with RC4’s products,” Carney concludes.