Robe's LED entertainment lighting enhances flow of action in "Dick Whittington" panto performance
Actor, comedian and singer Shane Richie – best known for his role as Alfie Moon in the long running BBC 1 soap ‘EastEnders’ - was back in the lead role at The Swan due to popular demand after his stonking success as Buttons in last year’s Cinderella - and the gags and innuendos flew as quickly and slickly as the cream pies and crazy foam!
Andy, a freelance LD based in Cirencester, has worked with Robe products over the last 10 years and was hugely impressed – in particular - with the authenticity of the various Robe LED lightsources that he used during the Showlight symposium in Cesky Krumlov in 2013, for which he was invited to create a lighting showcase in one of the city’s theatres.
When the opportunity to light a major commercial panto arose, he decided to revisit the concept and specify Robe moving lights, the majority of which were LED sources. His brief from ‘Dick Whittington’ – a poor boy who, accompanied by his faithful cat, rises to become Lord Mayor of London - Director Jon Conway was to make the lighting bright and dramatic with some specials centred around a number of key comedy routines, plus all those magical and surreal elements that are de rigeuer with panto, like evil queens, underwater scenes and desert islands, etc. For his main key lighting – rigged at the front side positions and also to a bar in front of the circle balcony, he chose five of Robe’s ROBIN DLS Profiles, which formed the workhorses of the rig. Three of these were positioned on the FOH bar at the front of the circle balcony, with one each a side on the pros booms.
From sharp and tightly focused gobo-work onto the set – maximising the shutters and high clarity gobos for all those ephemeral moments – to blending them into the warm Source Four general FOH cover “The DLS is an absolutely ultimately flexible fixture,” he enthused. One moment he could utilize them for general washes, shuttering off the edges of the pros, and the next as tightly defined rods of light hitting a mirror-ball with pin-point accuracy.
Rigged on four onstage side stage booms each side were a total of 28 PARFects with 40 degree lenses. Andy reckons these produce a beam spread almost identical to a CP62 from that position, “They are very bright and hold their own even amidst about 60K of generics! It’s also like having a PAR with a scroller at your disposal, endless possibilities … but seriously more reliable and with no noise!”
Along the front of the stage – replacing conventional ‘birdie’ footlights - was a row of 8 x ROBIN CycFX 8s which proved a bit of a pièce de résistance! Not only did they provide excellent front up-light in tungsten colour-mix scenes, but also added a real WOW factor when turned around and blasted into the audience as blinders. Thirdly, they made an exceptionally effective light curtain when in the vertical position through the haze, completely masking quick-changes and scenery shuffles onstage from the audience – put in place in a nanno-second without the hassle of dropping a scenic cloth! This was a function almost stumbled upon during rehearsals!
The most galvanising aspect of lighting Dick Whittington was having very little tech time with the real set onstage, however with perseverance, his vast experience of lighting shows under pressure and the assistance of a good set of drawings on an iPad … he produced some impressive results and a beautifully lit and balanced show.
The Robe products were supplied by rental company HSL and Robe UK, and Andy also used the house generics, strobes, followspots and assorted atmosphere generators.
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