Unusual Rigging & Juliet get together
Tuesday, 8 October 2019
and-juliet-2-johan-persson& Juliet is currently playing Opera House Manchester (photo: Johan Persson)
UK - Unusual Rigging has been brought on board to ensure that, while the course of true love definitely doesn't run smooth, the rigging on new West End musical & Juliet certainly does.
The show, which will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End next month is currently enjoying a successful run at Opera House Manchester, asks - what if Juliet's famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate? And what if she got over Romeo by running off to Paris with Nurse and her best friends on a whirlwind trip of romance, self-discovery and gate-crashing the castle party?
The musical features pop anthems of the last 30 years from songwriter Max Martin, all arranged by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning orchestrator Bill Sherman.
Production manager Simon Marlow explains: "My first port of call was to get in touch with Unusual Rigging as I knew they were the right team for this rather complex production. We've worked together on several other projects – in fact they're my go-to rigging team."
He continues: "They've been tasked with working out the fly plot, diversions and all overhead rigging on stage as well as facilitating all auditorium advanced rigging points. This is a technically challenging show with so many lights and massive PA – and that's before we even look at scenery. We also have programmable hoists on the show which is a challenge, so I need to know the riggers I'm working with can take all of this in their stride."
The show features some extravagant scenic elements - "a double revolve with some tricks in it - and a lot in the grid. It's a beautiful design and a lot of it," explains Marlow.
Opera House Manchester is familiar to both Simon and Unusual - they worked there together on Bat Out Of Hell, the Musical a couple of years ago, with the Unusual team making massive modifications to the venue at the time, most of which, they've been able to re-use for & Juliet.
The biggest challenge of this production has been the programmable hoists which feature in the production. "Thankfully the Unusual team are very patient with me. I worked closely with Emily Egleton who drew the fly plot, grid and diversions - she works with all disciplines (LX, Engineering, SND, scenery and automation) - what's more she understands all the disciplines and gets on really well with the team," says Marlow.
Unusual's role on & Juliet will continue at the Shaftesbury Theatre. "The biggest challenge at this point, really, is time," adds Marlow. "Of course it is a new show and an evolving production which is likely to keep changing. But Unusual help us achieve everything we aim for - simply by being Unusual - they don't disappoint - they never say no - it's why I enlist them for every production I work on."
(Jim Evans)

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