WL supplies The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Tuesday, 11 April 2023
three-billy-goats-gruff-2-helen-murrayThe Three Billy Goats Gruff has now opened and will run until Sunday 23 April (photo: Helen Murray)
UK - Currently running at the Unicorn Theatre, The Three Billy Goats Gruff tells the story of Baby, Middle and Big as they hatch a plan to venture across the bridge to find some grass to eat – but must outwit a horrible troll first. A musical retelling of the classic fable, the show features a score from Olivier Award-winning composers Stiles and Drewe. It features a lighting design by Sam Waddington, who approached White Light (WL) to supply his lighting fixtures.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff marks a welcomed return to the Unicorn Theatre for Sam, who has been lighting shows at the venue since 2017. About this latest production, he explains: “It became apparent from the first read and listen to Billy Goats that the entire vibe is just fun. There’s little call for tip-toeing (except across the bridge, of course), but very much a need to heighten dramatic or comedic moments with aplomb. The many songs, spanning almost every genre from operatic to techno, provide plenty of opportunity for play and enjoyment.
“As a creative team, we were set on providing a level of production value not often seen in theatre for this age range, whilst bearing in mind that this may be the first theatre experience for some of the younger audience members, thus working hard not to overwhelm the story. As always, supporting the story-telling was the key, especially regarding time of day, which plays a crucial role in the ultimate demise of the troll.”
Given the nature of this particular production, Sam ensured that he remained a part of the rehearsal process throughout. He comments: “I was mindful that the fit-up period was tight, tighter than usual, and therefore used this time to gradually whittle down the rig design from a sizeable first draft into something more appropriate for the available time. Our director Justin Audibert and his fab cast were doing runs by the end of week two, which allowed plenty of time to delve into the piece and map everything out.”
Following this, Sam contacted the team at WL to draw on the lighting fixtures he would require for his design. He states: “The core of the work is done by Ayrton’s Diablos, which I’d previously used on another straight play, and was pleased to put them through their paces on something jazzier. It’s great that they’re supplied with additional gobos, meaning we could swap the gobo load to something more theatre-friendly. They balance punch and a fab feature set with being so small - we could squeeze them into tiny gaps in the grid which proved very useful amongst the scenery.
“We also hired Aura XBs to supplement the Unicorn’s own, doing plenty of punchy backlight and crosslight. It was a joy to have a rig of small, quick, reliable and bright units which have made me and the Unicorn’s lighting department very happy.
He adds: “It’s rare to light something with so much range, especially when it’s only 55 minutes long. Within that time, there’s grand gestures of stylised, operatic lighting and contrasting with moments where we shake the gobos in a primary green whilst the goats run around screaming about trolls. There’s never a dull moment!
“I’m enormously grateful to all at the Unicorn, as well as our programmer Philip Burke for making the process run so smoothly. I’d also like to thank WL’s Sam Knight and Stuart Porter for working with us so collaboratively; allowing us to secure a brilliant set of kit, which also worked to our budget.”

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