Robe flies high with Peter Pan in Blackpool
Tuesday, 7 January 2020
robe-peter-pan-blackpool-2019-20-pet271706567Peter Pan plays Blackpool (photo: Louise Stickland)
UK - Pantomime season in the UK and Ireland brought another crop of hilarity and slapstick to stages up and down the countries.
One of the most high-profile presentations for this season was UK Productions’ Peter Pan at Blackpool Grand Theatre, directed by Anthony Williams and lit by Andy Webb.
Andy specified all-Robe LED fixtures with the T1 Profile at the core of his lighting scheme. The design also included Spiider wash-beams, ParFect 100s and 150s, DL4S Profiles, LEDWash 300s and CycFX 8s.
Andy has a lot of experience in lighting the world of pantos, which requires some classic theatre treatments, but also leaving room for experimentalism and fun. He has also worked at the Grand Theatre before, an original Frank Matcham designed house - and now a Grade II Listed building - dating back to 1894 that is exceptionally tight for space when staging complex contemporary productions.
Andy explained how he wanted to light Peter Pan differently from a standard panto as the storyline “had the latitude for us to be much more ‘musical’ in approach”. His idea was to emphasise and build up the characters and locational compositions rather than relying just on the slapstick - which was there, but more understated and thoughtful that you’d expect!
Consequently, lighting went the same way, offering a lot more multi-layered cues, depth and texturing than might be found in traditional panto. Also, being Peter Pan, there was the great dramatic vehicle of flying to add excitement to the performance!
Three Foy flying tracks over the stage and one in the auditorium above the audience additionally affected how Andy was able to light. Making those wires disappear was a priority so the characters convincingly looked like they were really flying.
Robe T1s were used for a lot of texturing and scenic gobo work like creating window frames and shimmering magic effects utilising the animation wheels. “Almost every scene had some sort of movement effect - subtle or obvious - from the T1s, and it’s been great being able to use their functionality to assist this process,” he stated.
The core rig was built around 12 x Robe T1 Profiles for the hard-edged lights, 10 over the stage on LX Bars 1, 2 and 3, with two either side of the pros arch, crossing to light the stage apron.
Twelve Spiiders were distributed equally across LX bars 1, 2 and 3 for a nice even stage wash. “They work perfectly in tandem with the T1s,” Andy commented.
Six ParFect 150s on LX3 were rigged either side of centre creating two 3-finger ACL-style fans.
Twenty ParFect 100s were scattered around the rig, mainly on the side booms and ladders, with a pair on the end of each LX bar for illuminating the set borders and legs, with six on the FOH bars to light the production’s false pros.
Two DL4S Profiles were rigged in the upper balcony positions, used for texturing the front cloths and for projected and animated effects like clouds onto the skyline for the city scenes.
A pair of LEDWash 300s positioned on the front pros bar at head height offer more quality front cross light.
Two CycFX 8 moving LED battens were utilised to up-light the house pros arch, while a pair of ParFect S1 2.7K (warm) and 6.0K (cold) whites cut in from the downstage booms, replacing what would traditionally have been a fresnel position, chosen for their high-quality even LED wash characteristics.
In addition to the 50 or so moving and ‘intelligent’ Robe lights which were supplied by Cambridge based rental company CEG, Andy hooked into a selection of Blackpool Grand’s house rig generics - Source Four Profiles, PARs and fresnels.
Over 300 lighting cues were programmed onto the Avolites Tiger Touch II console operated by the house crew for the run of shows which ended on 5 January 2020.
(Jim Evans)

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