ROBE AT THE THEATRE WITH DISNEY HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
2 May 2008
Designer Andy Webb utilised 39 Robe moving lights and 13 Anolis ArcLine Optic LED strips for the recent Tigz Productions show Disney High School Musical staged at the Sundial Theatre in Cirencester.All 15 performances of the action-packed musical sold out, generating record box office sales for the theatre, and receiving rave reviews. It was also the largest lighting rig that has ever been installed there.
Webb designed both set and lighting for the show which was directed by Adrian Ross-Jones. “Creating both these visual elements from the outset enables you to produce a really coherent and fluid look and feel for the performance – it’s definitely the way I like to work,” he says.
He has used Robe for many previous designs and likes the brand for its range, brightness and reliability.
The main design concept for this show came from the need to create a myriad of different locations with extremely quick and seamless change-overs, all made additionally challenging by the compact stage size and limited wing space. The need for visual dynamics and variety was another reason for choosing to light it almost exclusively with automated fixtures.
Webb’s idea incorporated an open stage design with a series of fixed set pieces around the periphery, and two 3 x 2 metre moveable walls, which were used extensively to create the different scenes.
There were 4 red panels flanking the upstage and downstage edges of the space, the upstage ones complete with the meshed windows of classroom doors, and concealing 2 Robe MS Zoom 250 fixtures and a strobe. The edges of each of these four panels were lined with Anolis ArcLine Optic 36 LED strips for additional colour and to highlight the edges of the stage and ‘buildings’. “Some lights were required to be integrated with the set pieces,” Webb explains.
The basketball net and scoreboard was constructed from 1 and 2 metre trussing sections, illuminated with an Anolis ArcLine Optic 36 in the centre and 2 ArcLine Optic 12s either side, with a pair of 4-lite blinders in its centre.
Upstage, just in front of the “High School Musical” sign revealed for the final megamix section – was the rear bar of moving lights, containing 5 Robe ColorSpot 575E ATs and 4 Robe ColorWash 575E ATs. The ColorSpots were used for assorted effects and both ColorWashes and ColorSpots were used to provide strong downlight. The lights on this back bar were fundamental to creating much of the show’s drama and atmosphere.
Webb explains that he incorporates plenty of TV-style back light in his designs because it introduces so much additional depth to a space. He also needed this back bar to be densely populated with lighting fixtures for scenes when the mobile walls traverse the stage.
Further downstage were a pair of Robe ColorSpot 575E ATs, used for top and side lighting in conjunction with the 5 further back. They were also used for silhouetting in specific scenes.
The mid stage lighting bar consisted of a Robe ColorSpot 700E AT in the centre – chosen as an intense down-lighter, used for tight silhouetting and also wide open – aided by the low ceiling height. Either side of this were two ColorWash 250 ATs to fill in the end spaces by the rear 575s and primarily for top lighting.
At the front of the wings were two side stage booms that provided absolutely crucial side lighting for the show. At the base of each was a strobe, and – going upwards – a Robe MS Zoom 250, a ColorWash 575E AT, another MS Zoom 250 and topped with a ColorWash 575E AT.
The booms were specially constructed by Webb and his technical crew – all students from Cirencester College’s BTEC course in Technical Theatre - and featured a double set of rigging bars. This allowed them to rig the different sized fixtures at different depths, enabling all the noses to be lined up exactly on the same plane. “This detail was very important,” says Webb, “As the booms were in view for a lot of the audience, so it was essential that they looked neat”.
Over the top of the apron at the front of stage were another two ColorWash 575E ATs, for kicking back onto the stage. On a further forward FOH bar, Webb used the Sundial Theatre’s new Robe ColorWash 750 AT Tungstens – the first in the UK, a deal that he was instrumental in completing. “They are punchy, quiet and ideal for FOH cover” he says, although needing quiet fixtures was not an issue on this production with it’s thumping soundtrack!
On the advanced bar over the audience were 3 ColorSpot 700E ATs used for spotting positions and for throwing gobo washes over the set and stage – which proved highly effective as an aid to establishing different locations when beamed onto the two moving walls.
The only other lighting was 12 Strand SL’s rigged on front and front-side positions, providing infill and additional face cover, two Selcon Pacific follow spots and 16 PARs flanking the “High School Musical” sign far upstage, blasted in for the final, high impact, show end “blind” cue.
All lighting was run from a WholeHog Full Boar console, newly purchased by Tigz Productions for the show, programmed by Webb and production electrician Jim Hobbs, and run by Hobbs, which contained over 400 LX cues by the time they had finished.
The Robes were a mixture of the theatre’s own stock and additionals supplied by Enlightened Lighting from Bath.
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