Dear Evan Hansen opens with disguise
Tuesday, 14 January 2020
sam-tutty-evan-hansen-photo-by-matthew-murphyDear Evan Hansen at the Noel Coward Theatre (photo: Matthew Murphy)
UK - The Tony Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen opened in London 19 November at the Noel Coward Theatre with video projection comprising the shows entire stage scenery.
Supplied by Stage Sound Services, three disguise vx 4 and four gx 1 servers powered projections for the show, highlighting the impact of social media on daily life and create an immersive social media environment on stage for the actors.
“The cornerstone of the play is Evan and his interaction with the real world through a social media lens,” says projection designer Peter Nigrini. “To successfully tell our story, social media needed to be a visceral part of the theatrical environment. After the set designer created a physical environment, my job was to bring this virtual world to life on stage and give it the emotional power that so many teenagers clearly feel in their day to day lives.”
Every surface of the playing space can be covered by content. Display surfaces include a front projection system, a series of portals and tracking panels, flat-panel LCD monitors and the stage floor. Eight projectors and 32 monitors are deployed.
Nigrini notes that, “every piece of scenery that moves in the design is automated, and we can track it in real time. In moving the show to London we were also able to pre-visualise the entire production in New York, make decisions about automation and scenery in response to the changed dimensions of the London production. We were able to feed this back to other departments so it could all be pre-programmed. Integration with automation is key in disguise.”
disguise was chosen “to have precise control over where tiny fragments of image are mapped,” says Nigrini. “I’ve always skirted the edge of disguise’s capacity in my shows. It is a perverse inversion of scale you experience when working in the theatre – we are working in a tiny space but with 40 HD video channels and requiring the capacity of the vx 4 to deliver them.”
Cast rotation plays a central role in Dear Evan Hansen. The company has 17 actors in total, with 8 actors on stage at one time. With a changing cast for each performance, each of whom appear in pre-recorded video footage during the show, the disguise real-time workflow helps facilitate cast rotation and the live video effects.
“Throughout the prep and technical rehearsals we worked closely with the show’s video design and production teams to assist with any equipment alterations and could always rely on the disguise servers to perform every step along the way,” says James Paul, senior account manager with Stage Sound Services, which was awarded the rental contract. “Before the video system was finalised we were fortunate enough to be able to upgrade the original specification from disguise 4x4 pro servers to vx 4 servers, which played a big part in bringing the show’s demands to life.”
(Jim Evans)

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