impression X4 XL upgrade adds further bite to Dracula Ballet

David Grill maintains lighting consistency in Oklahoma City

Multi-disciplined and award-winning lighting designer David Grill has worked at the top level across the genres of theatre, dance, opera, TV, architectural and industrials which, he says, have taken him “from the Great Wall of China to the Great Stage of Radio City Music Hall.”

Most recently he has returned to GLP’s lighting portfolio to stage a new production of Michael Pink’s 1996 ballet Dracula—a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s horror classic story—at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. This was presented by the Oklahoma City Ballet.


“The production is rented to ballet companies throughout the world, and at each venue I lay out the line sets and adapt the show to whatever I find there,” says the LD, explaining the background. “[impression X4’s] are among fixtures that remain constant and the rest change depending on venue.” He believes that the production plays better in theatres where the architecture is either more ornate or with darker woods, rather than the light grey ones that pull focus from the stage.

However, with the latest transfer, fixture availability forced him to replace the eight X4 devices generally deployed in the production with the same number of GLP’s larger X4 XL, which the Ballet sourced from local company, Toucan Productions. Containing 55 high power RGBW LEDs (each rated at 15 W), coupled with 7° – 50° zoom range, the output is intense.

The fact that the X4 XL uses the same optics featured in the impression X4 to deliver a similar well-defined beam, was the main reason Grill opted for an identical number of units. “Because they have a specific ‘focus’ cutting down the quantity was not an option,” he says.

While the designer was able to maintain the feel of the impression X4 in the darker scenes, both colour and levels needed to be backed off due to the increased brightness of the X4 XL. In the whiter scenes, however, it was a different story. “I was very happy to have the brighter units as they now cut through the conventional units and made those scenes much more as I have always wished the look to be,” he admits. “I had no need to fuss with the colour, as I thought might have been the case with the upgrade, and am very relieved that they transferred flawlessly between units. My only wish was that they had a ‘lime’ LED so that I could tone down the saturation of the blue LED’s a bit easier and more subtly.”

One review of an earlier show spoke of “purple and blue hues illuminating the stage, helping to create a spooky and unforgettable experience.”

Commenting on the review, David Grill admits,“It was the LED saturation that allowed all of this to happen. I also enjoy being able to have the same colour at varying intensities without the red shift that used to occur when using more conventional PAR type units. There are a few hues I use in the show that represent Dracula and all that comes with his presence. The X4’s make treating the lacework of the scenes with this presence quite easy to do.”

Under his and Michael Pink’s stewardship, the production continually evolves, largely to deal with the size of the theatre or how the set fits into it. “Our own tastes are ever evolving as well and we have new thoughts and ideas every time we revisit the production.”

The Oklahoma Civic Center Music Hall was no exception, and the transfer was “100% successful” according to the designer, retaining the same mood and feel as previously. “This gives me a new starting point for the next time we do the show.”

And there is no question that the GLP’s impression X4 family will again be in the tool box—whenever that situation might occur.

“I find the dimming curve to be one of the best, if not the best in the industry for LED wash units,” he enthuses, assessing the merits of the fixture. “This, in conjunction with the rest of the GLP line of products and availability throughout the world, makes them a fantastic choice for me. 

Also, I think that the value and reliability make them an easy choice when requesting them from the various places that I light shows.”