Beauty and the Beast

Act 1 end of Sainsbury Singers' production of Beauty and the Beast
Act 1 end of Sainsbury Singers' production of Beauty and the Beast
Sainsbury Singers’ recent production of Beauty and the Beast represented something of a new record for me in terms of the length of time invested to rig, focus and plot the show – around four long days or so. But given really excellent reviews and a great cast performance it was all worthwhile.

I specified a number of new things in the plan, all of which fortunately worked out pretty well.

Among a reasonably broad palette of gels I tried three Lee colours previously unknown to me – HT797 Deep Purple for cross-stage washes (which with the addition of heat shield survived the week in Alto 2.5kW lanterns), 703 Cold Lavender for side and front highlights and 775 Soft Amber Key 2 (for overhead lighting in candlelit dinner scene). Loved all three; will no doubt turn to them again.

Also adding considerable variation to colour was my gamble to use 16 of MilTek’s 36 x 3W LED stage wash lanterns, supplied by Dinrino Theatre Services. I was looking for something to give me some extra Disney-esque options for the look of the show and figured that the vibrant green, blue and red output from these units, coupled with the generally lower light levels of many scenes, would work. The theory was correct; their levels were enough to noticeably add even to relatively brightly lit scenes. All were easy to set up, not quirky on DMX and reliable through the show. Knowing they didn’t have barn doors I planned to use them in the rig where control of the circa 30 beam was not a problem. The one issue with these units was the tricky dimming curve of the LEDs that were close to full brightness at not much more than 50% of level on the board and also noticeable notchy between 0%-20%, so plotting had to make allowance for that.

Be Our Guest from Sainsbury Singer's production of Beauty and the Beast
Be our Guest
Other kit over and above deployment of much of the Hexagon’s lantern stock included a Martin Atomic 3000 strobe, Rosco Gobo rotators (all from Dinrino) and a Toccata 2.5kW effects projector to project a cloud effect on the show open gauze (this from Viking Stage Lighting).

Rigging started on the Saturday night; we worked on front of house on Sunday and focused stage Monday morning. A basic plot was in the board for Monday evening’s technical rehearsal and the polish was applied on the Tuesday during the day and then during the dress in the evening. Further tweaks were made Wednesday afternoon ahead of the first of five performances. In all 199 cues. Hard work but lots of fun!

My thanks to Peter Harley and my niece Heather Hollamby for excellent handling of the followspots and to Adrian Croton of the Hexagon tech staff for all of his efforts up the Tallescope and on the Hexagon’s Strand 550 board.

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