Los Chicos del Coro – Interview with lighting designer Juanjo Llorens about the award-winning musical

In November 2022, the Spanish musical “Los Chicos del Coro” (The Choirboys) premiered at the Teatro La Latina in Madrid. The production is based on the Oscar-winning film “The Children of Monsieur Mathieu” and has itself won four MET Musical Awards, including for the lighting design by Juanjo Llorens. In this interview, the internationally renowned lighting designer talks about his artistic vision for “Los Chicos del Coro”, the use of the Cameo OPUS SP5 and EVOS W3 moving lights and the question of whether automation in lighting design is a curse or a blessing for the theatre.

Cameo Light Installation Musical Los Chicos Del Coro with OPUS SP5 Moving Head and EVOS W3 Beam Wash Moving Head Interview with Juanjo Llorens

Juanjo, what do you look for in a lighting design for a musical?

Juanjo Llorens: The main thing is to create a symbiosis between the lighting design and the set design. Once this goal has been achieved, we can tell a story together that meets the dramaturgical guidelines.

How does the lighting design of a musical differ from a classical play or an opera production?

Juanjo Llorens: The difference with opera or theatre is that in a musical all the components of the performing arts come together. Therefore, one must master the code of the respective artistic language and be able to translate it into a single language. At the same time, music offers us more freedom when it comes to creating emotional worlds. These possibilities can only be found in musicals.

How did you approach “Los Chicos del Coro” as a lighting designer?

Juanjo Llorens: The first scene immediately sets the visual direction. This reminds me of an orphanage, which is why the lighting effect must not be friendly. At the same time, the lighting design must appeal to the audience and lead them to an fantasy triggering imaginary point.

Due to its vertical, open slats, the stage set offers a lot of creative freedom, which I can use to realise my ideas for the lighting. I want to emphasise the beauty of the light rays in order to create moods and spaces that do not exist in reality.

In many scenes, artificial light shines into the scenery from outside. At the same time, the artificial light appears very natural and is reminiscent of the occurrence of light in a cathedral. How did you do that?

Juanjo Llorens: Above all you have to know how to use the each of the spotlights ideally. It is a play on the intensity and colour blends. Gobos and fog are also help beautifully.

For Los Chicos del Coro, you use the OPUS SP5 Profile Moving Head and the EVOS W3 Wash Moving Head. Have you worked with both models before?

Juanjo Llorens: The first times was during an earlier production at the Teatro Español in Madrid. Even then, I was surprised by the versatility and performance of the Cameo fixtures – whether it was the OPUS SP5, the LED Pars or the LED Bars. I now know very well which spotlights I need for which tasks. For Los Chicos del Coro, the OPUS SP5 and EVOS W3 meet all the requirements for size, noise and economy without making the slightest compromise in lighting quality.

Some critics feel that the excessive use of automation and complex lighting designs leads to a sterile, sometimes film-like experience that undermines the originality and immediacy of live theatre. What do you think of this accusation?

Juanjo Llorens: It is absurd. It is quite the opposite: the possibilities thanks to automated light the possibilities we have today are incredible. The tools are on the table for everyone, you just have to know how to use them. The variety of colours, gobos and dynamics a single moving light can create is impressive.

Is there any artist or lighting designer who has had a particularly strong influence on you?

Juanjo Llorens: Carlos Cytrynowski, my first teacher. He was a set designer, costume designer and lighting designer. He taught me how you need a personal vision for each area, but only when you have combined everything do you get a balanced mix. He was concerned with looking at the work as a whole.

What advice would you give to the younger generation of lighting designers seeking to pursue a career in theatre?

Juanjo Llorens: Be brave, play with technique and be humble, because there will always be someone who can teach you. A good lighting designer reflects all these things.

Juanjo Llorens
© Javier Naval

Adisar Media

The Cameo fixtures for the production of “Los Chicos del Coro” at Teatro La Latina were supplied by Adisar Media as part of the Mediapro Group. Adisar Media had already used the Cameo OPUS and EVOS series in large numbers for the lighting of the prestigious Goya Awards 2022 – the Spanish Oscars.

The following cameo products were used for “Los Chicos del Coro”:

20 x Cameo OPUS® SP5
46 x Cameo EVOS® W3

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