Robe puts beauty into the beast
Friday, 11 January 2019
robe-beauty-and-the-beastBeauty and The Beast at Blackpool Grand (photo: Louise Stickland)
UK - It’s panto time again in the UK with the slapstick, craziness and innuendos flying as fast as a foam pie in the face.
At Blackpool Grand this year, putting both beauty and some beast attitude into the show, lighting designer Andy Webb specified 81 x Robe fixtures - 98 per cent of them LED sources - for a brand-new version of the classic tale produced by UK Productions for the 2018-19 season.
It’s the fourth consecutive year that Andy has lit the famous UK seaside resort’s panto, which was directed by Damian Sandys with whom he also worked on the 2017-18 production. This was a huge advantage to the fluidity and creative flow of this year’s show, together with knowing the venue, a beautiful original Matcham house that is notoriously tight for space when installing the complex modern productions of the 21st century.
Andy chose Robe as his main lighting fixtures for several reasons. “I’ve spec’d and worked with Robe on numerous shows and I know the products really well” he explained, adding, “there is a great choice of fixtures, their LED light sources are of an excellent quality and overall the kit is super reliable”.
He relishes the chance to light panto as a genre which is seriously fast-paced and offers huge scope for colour, melodrama and fun - simultaneously playful, exciting and scary - all great ambiences to embellish with light. Lighting a brand-new production for the first time was also really exciting, and it offered the opportunity to set the ground rules and create some spectacular signature elements.
To give the Beast’s character more gravitas and depth, Andy introduced some proper darkness and foreboding to his castle domain. That darkness was also an imaginative starting point for the lighting to evolve, as they needed to be able to flip between this state and a host of bright mischievous lighting for the comedy scenes - of which there were plenty!
Lighting was also used for other metaphors - throughout the show, as the Beast slowly but surely falls in love with main female protagonist Belle, more lights and festoons, etc, are introduced to his castle environment transforming it from a dingy, grubby den to a brighter more vivid and alive space.
Andy started with 10 Robe DL4S Profiles, eight distributed between LX bars 1 and 3 with the other two rigged at FOH.
Eight Spiider LED wash beams are also on LX 1 and 2 as Andy wanted a BIG lush wash lighting effect covering the whole stage.
Three DL4F fresnels on back light bar - LX3 - create a look that has become one of Andy’s ‘classic’ panto scenes. “The fresnel lens as a back light really brings a different take and quality of light to the picture,” he says.
On the same rear LX bar are six ParFect 150s and two Robe LED Strobes used for lightening effects critical to the big fight scene, helping the audience to feel every push, shove and punch.
On the final upstage LX bar are another four LEDBeam 150s utilised for special pickups at the back of the set and for set dressing – in conjunction with two VIVA Spots and one VIVA CMY on the same bar – plus another two VIVAs on the pros perch (FOH).
Four LEDBeam 150s on the house bars either side of the pros point into the audience for blinder effects and movement cues.
A total of 20 x ParFect 100s and four ParFect S1s are deployed in various positions including eight at FOH acting as a contrasting set wash, with the rest on side stage boom ladders for cross stage lighting and a pair upstage swooshing across the Cyc.
Traversing the stage floor at the front - in the footlights position - are four CycFX 8 LED battens.
Just offstage of these each side is a Spikie. Andy has used the Spikie flower effects to help enhance the magical moments in the storytelling, like when the good fairy is working her spells for peace and harmony to prevail.
(Jim Evans)

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