Robe got into the tradition of English pantomime during the 2015 festive season, as over 50 fixtures – including the latest DL series luminaires – were specified by Lighting Designer Andy Webb for a lively and colourful production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, produced by UK Productions at Blackpool Grand Theatre.
Webb stated that he immediately thought of Robe again after pioneering the large scale use of LED moving and static lighting luminaires in commercial panto for the 2014 production of Dick Whittington at High Wycombe, when he was approached to light another popular fairy-tale story laced with slapstick humour, hijinks and audience interaction.
One of the classic references to this Brothers Grimm story is the 1937 Disney animated musical fantasy film, and he “wanted to bring that truly ‘Disneyesque’ surface optimism and style to lighting this production”, which entailed the application of “lots of colour, definition and attention to detail as well as ensuring that the characters are beautifully lit, balanced and immediately recognisable”.
Due to the tight stage and wing space at the Grand Theatre, an original Matcham-designed venue opened in 1894 and, now Grade II Listed, the set primarily relied on flown cloths rather than large elaborate scenic pieces, which also put more emphasis on the lighting.
With LX bars one, two and three having substantial gaps between them, at times throughout the show, at least one of them was obscured behind one or more cloths. These were dropped in, so all the lights had to be properly multi-functional and Webb reported that that was the biggest challenge in lighting the piece.
The FOH circle was the starting point for fixture placement and here there was two Robe DL4Ss, which took care of texturing all the back-cloths with gobos and throwing general light and colour onto the stage. Webb said he made the most of the framing shutters to keep the lighting tightly focused on the stage, trimming off any spillage onto the pros arch.
He commented: “They are well bright enough to be seen above the static traditional profiles I am using onstage for key light.”
On the pros booms either side of the stage were two Robe LEDWash 600’s, two LEDBeam 100’s and three PARfect 100’s. The higher positioned PARfects coloured all the cloths and combined with more PARFect 100’s in the side-stage shin-buster position, which cut across the dwarves when they were onstage.
The LEDBeam 100’s created effects like lightning into the audience and the ‘monster moments’ when the Evil Queen was delivering monologues on stage.
The advanced bar featured two Robe 600E Spots, used for specials, pick-ups and to assist the front gobo coverage.
Centre stage at the front on the floor was a MiniMe LED effects projector that had been loaded with custom video content for the show, projected onto the mirror gauze when the Evil Queen was asking the Mirror about her chances of winning the attentions of Prince Charming.
Moving back upstage, LX1 had a 600E Spot rigged right in the centre flanked by a pair of LEDWash 600’s and then a pair of ColorSpot 575E ATs offstage.
LX2 contained another four ColorSpot 575E ATs, with a DL4F Wash LED fresnel dead centre with six PARfect 100s.
Webb stated that the DL4F was chosen for its zoom capabilities which, combined with the frost, allowed him to spread beautifully luminescent colouration right across the set and stage, and also, tightened up, turn round and deal with all the upstage pick-ups that the follow spots couldn’t reach due to their positioning and the steep angle of the auditorium.
“The DL4Fs are really bright and invaluable for both these functions,” he elucidated.
The PARfect 100’s were fitted with a 20 degree diffusion and utilised as top back light upstage of the front of the pros apron, while the 575’s were used for gobo coverage across the entire downstage section of stage.
On LX3 were five Pointes (one in the centre and four spread out equally along the bar) and these create all the big air effects. Webb stated that “the key is that the Pointes are not over-used.”
Also on this bar were another 12 PARFect 100’s, six fitted with 20 degree diffusion for back lighting the upstage action, and the other six with 40 degree diffusion.
He commented: “PARFect 100 is a great general purpose light for theatre, especially with the 40 degree diffusion added, which is ideal for blending into set and scenic pieces and also for producing excellent skin tones.”
Down at deck level, two booms each side of stage were both populated with another three PARfect 100’s (12 in total) with the seven degree fixed beam angle, selected because they had to push through the tiniest gaps in the set.
All lighting was programmed by Webb on an Avolites Tiger Touch 2, which is being looked after by the Grand Theatre’s house LX crew for the run, which finished in January. The Robe fixtures were supplied by Enlightened Lighting from Bristol with support from Robe UK.