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ROCK ME AMADEUS – New Falco musical in Vienna relies on zactrack SMART for its lighting/sound design

On 7 October, "Rock me Amadeus - The Falco Musical" celebrated its world premiere at the Ronacher theatre in Vienna. The elaborate VBW in-house musical production has captured the genius of the legendary artist and offers exciting insights into Falco's life on stage and as a private individual. For the lighting design, the lighting team around Howard Harrison (lighting designer) and Lukas Berger (Head of Lighting - Musicals) chose to use numerous Astra Wash moving wash lights from Prolights and MAC Aura and Encore moving heads from Martin in conjunction with a zactrack SMART system for the automated tracking of the singer's positions.

To visualise Falco's multilayered and conflicting personality, Stephan Prattes included numerous mirrors into the stage set. Lighting designer Howard Harrison had some doubts as to whether the operation of the follow spots could be realized by traditional means - and this ultimately resulted in the use of the zactrack SMART system.

"We have a total of eleven active trackers in operation," explains Florian Andratsch, who was working with the plug-and-play tracking system for the first time on "Rock me Amadeus - The Falco Musical". "The lighting crew tracks the three main characters Hans, Alter Ego and Isabella, who each wear two trackers. Our sound colleagues also use their OSC data and the data from five further performers with a tracker each to realize directional listening."

To cover the entire stage with its three-dimensional action, the Ronacher team headed by Florian Andratsch installed ten anchors at different heights along the stage periphery with the assistance of Christoph Rosenberg from zactrack. "We had no prior experience with zactrack, but thanks to fantastic support from the zactrack team we were able to familiarize ourselves with the system in advance so that the installation on site went perfectly smoothly," confirms Florian Andratsch.

"The performers on the stage hardly noticed the SMART tracker, which they wore like an additional transmitter on their back or on the microport belt. The artists move around the stage quite naturally - without any restrictions," comments Lukas Berger. But the lighting operators benefit from entirely new possibilities, which the team use to produce thrilling light effects: "In one scene, 'Falco' stands upstage on the rotating platform with his back to the audience and is then turned around to face the front. He is tracked throughout this manoeuvre, backlit by a moving light - which looks fantastic!"

The Falco musical involves close to 300 stage lights, including 70 spots from Prolights and 104 moving heads from Martin. For the lighting rigs in the rigging loft and on the side walls, Howard Harrison uses the Astra Wash19Pix lights from Prolights, not only for flexible lighting effects, but thanks to their pixel ring also as decorative elements. Astra Wash7Pix lights were incorporated into the "speaker wall", which is lowered down from the rigging loft during the musical's show sequences. The very compact wash moving lights make the "perfect effect lights" due to their installation size and low weight.

The MAC Aura PXL from Martin are perfect for providing high-intensity key light from the side; and with their lightweight head and fast pan/tilt movements, they are ideal for automated control via zactrack. A total of 50 MAC Encore lights are used for the front light in the FoH area as well as in the lighting rigs, where the LED spotlights serve to provide effects and back-lighting. The effect section is rounded off by 40 VDO Atomic Dot CLD fixtures from Martin. These high-power blinder, strobe and video effect fixtures are spread out to cover the entire stage set and provide lightning storm and AURA effects among others.

Further details: Rock Me Amadeus - Musical - Ronacher Theatre

Vienna, Austria

From Oktober 2023 until June 2024

Photos: © Deen van Meer


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