Mean Girls shines on Broadway with disguise
Tuesday, 23 April 2019
mean-girls-image-4Mean Girls at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre
USA - Mean Girls, The Musical has been playing at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre since April 2018. The new production features a dynamic, video-led design that seamlessly changes playing locations. Such scenic agility is facilitated by one of the most ambitious uses of story-enhancing video content on a Broadway show.
Responsible for this video content is British video design team Finn Ross and Adam Young of FRAY Studio, who worked closely with the show’s director and choreographer, Casey Nicholaw and set designer, Scott Pask, to create the sophisticated and at times surreal world of North Shore High and its students.
The set comprises two stage-wide curved walls with sliding doors and panels. The top screen is set back to create a sense of depth and dimension. In addition, there are six LED screen legs that bleed off into the wings.
Images are delivered using five disguise gx 1 media servers, linked to 22 NovaStar NovaPro HD processors, and triggered by a combination of timecode and cues from the lighting and sound department. The content created in Notch is beat-perfect, complementing every change in mood, tempo and energy and ensuring that the show feels slick from beginning to end.
Video content switches scenic location with filmic dexterity from present day to the past - fantasy locations, basements, school corridors, a swimming pool, a party, canteens to classrooms - and that’s just in the first act.
“Casey had a very clear and absolute vision for the stage design and Tina Fey’s script changes location so fast it’s often hard to keep up,” explains Finn. “Our design approach had to balance this speed. Casey sees video as a crucial element of the detailed choreography of Mean Girls, an extra layer of narrative, so content has to move and change to the same beat and count as the performers, yet still convey a believable environment.”
The challenge didn’t end there. Casey wanted to see the entire show visualised and cued to the count of the music before rehearsals began. The key to achieving this was the use of the disguise 3D visualiser system, which enabled FRAY to clearly communicate their content ideas to Casey and Scott in real time.
For FRAY Studio, disguise is a crucial tool that allows them to bridge the gap between the creative and technical while syncing video content so it can be triggered across a network of timecode, light and sound: “These days, working with disguise is second nature for us,” says Finn. “Mean Girls is not as complex as other shows we’ve designed. However, it was quite a jump for us to move into designing and programming for an LED surface as opposed to projection.”
(Jim Evans)

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