March 14, 2023
CHICAGO—To ensure an emotionally captivating and visually immersive stage experience for the debut of The Notebook musical, renowned lighting designer Ben Stanton utilized Martin MAC Ultra Performance and MAC Ultra Wash fixtures supplied by Christie Lites.
Based on the iconic New York Times bestselling novel of the same title by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook is a new musical that brings the beloved romance to the stage. The musical—which recently opened at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater—was scored by singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, scripted by Bekah Brunstetter, choreographed by Katie Spelman and directed by Michael Greif and Schele Williams. In order to enhance the story’s flashback-based plot that spans multiple timelines, the production required a flexible and powerful lighting design that could contain multiple looks on stage at once. Renowned lighting designer Ben Stanton created an impressive and unique visual design utilizing Martin Professional lighting solutions, including MAC Ultra Performance and MAC Ultra Wash fixtures, provided by Christie Lites.
“For The Notebook, malleability was a really important component of the lighting design,” said Stanton. “I needed to have the lighting be able to shift tone and realities really quickly—lighting that could hold the present and the past onstage at the same time. We also needed a lot of flexibility with the lighting in order to be able to carve out little scenes within a larger context. The lighting needed to be powerful enough to not only activate the set—which was painted all black—but also cut through it.”
Martin MAC Ultra Performance and MAC Ultra Wash are two new fixtures that represent Martin’s largest engineering initiative in the past decade. Featuring benchmark output across the zoom range, a true next generation framing system, higher definition optics and astoundingly low noise levels, the MAC Ultra fixtures helped Stanton provide powerful and stunning visual effects for The Notebook without negatively impacting quiet moments with noisy fixtures. In addition to the MAC Ultra fixtures, Stanton utilized Martin MAC Encore Performance fixtures to provide key lighting.
“The MAC Ultra Wash and Performance are two of the most powerful lights I’ve ever used in a theater setting,” said Stanton. “In the past, designers had to accept that if you wanted a really powerful moving light, it was going to be a loud fixture. It’s incredible how quiet the MAC Ultras are. The Notebook is a subtle, beautiful musical, and I never had an issue with the MAC Ultra fixtures being too loud.”
Originally slated for 2020, the original timeline of The Notebook was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. During the delays, Martin introduced the new Martin MAC Ultra fixtures, which turned out to be a boon for the production. Stanton noted his long-standing relationship with Christie Lites as a contributing factor to securing the new Martin fixtures for the production, and with hopes of staging The Notebook on Broadway in the near future, noted his continued reliance on them in the future.
“I’ve worked with Christie Lites for decades,” said Stanton. “I’ve always felt very supported by them and have come to rely on Martin gear on a lot of my shows. For The Notebook, the MAC Ultra was a game changer in terms of quality, reliability, efficiency and fan noise. The power and sensitivity of the fixture had a big impact on the final design. We were all very pleased”