Just For One Day runs at the Old Vic until 30 March (photo: Manuel Harlan)
UK - Playing at London’s Old Vic Theatre, Just For One Day is a new musical which tells the story of Live Aid and those who came together to create this event. Penned by John O’Farrell (Mrs Doubtfire), it features the songs of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, U2, Queen, Elton John and Paul McCartney among others. The show also features a lighting design by Olivier Award-nominated Howard Hudson, who approached White Light (WL), a d&b solutions company, to supply his lighting rig.
Just For One Day is an insight into the origins of the history-making concert held at Wembley Stadium on 13 July 1985; one which was attended by 72,000 and watched by a staggering 1.9bn worldwide. Discussing the show, Howard comments: “Live Aid was such a ground-breaking event and one which has a vast amount of now iconic imagery associated with it.
“Our show tells the story of several of those involved in the making of the concert, so whilst we ultimately do go to the event itself in the second half, a large amount of the show is narrative-based which requires a vast number of locations such as the recording studio, Bob Geldof’s house and all the way to Ethiopia; the country which was featured on the news report which inspired Live Aid.”
Unusual for even a historical-based musical, part of Howard’s brief was to actually recreate those now legendary performances from the concert; wanting to ensure the audience felt as though they were being transported back to that day almost forty years ago. He explains: “The primary resource for me was the large number of photos of the event. The banks of PARs were a big inspiration. Following some research, I discovered that the Live Aid rig was actually Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA tour rig, which played Wembley the weeks before and was allowed to remain there and be slightly reconfigured.
He adds: “Whilst I couldn’t quite track down the gels used for this, we tried our best to match these from the photos. I actually dug out a very early Vari-Lite manual of those used at the event, and sent this onto video designer Andrzej Goulding who was able to use the gobos listed there for some of his video design content, replicating the look and movement of those early moving lights on the back and side walls. What we managed to create was remarkably similar to what was used at the actual concert - something I’m incredibly proud of.”
Howard approached the hire team at WL to supply him with his fixtures. He comments: “For the visible rig, to stay true to the time, we wanted to ensure that no modern sources such as more modern looking LED wash lights were visible. The rig is largely made up of around 55 Martin MAC Encore Performance CLDs, all with heavy frost so they can act as washlights if needed.
“The Encores are laid out in a grid overhead, meaning we could run effects in strips horizontally and vertically, a modern riff on how they might have done with a grid of PARs back then. They very rarely move live, sticking more to intensity chases to keep the period feel. We also used some VL800 Event PARs which fly in on a scenic piece of rigging. We use these as much as possible in a ‘period’ way and they never change colour live, so will always go out to then come back in another colour.”
He adds: “The rig also has around 300 conventional PARs which are used on various grids that fly in and other pars dotted around the auditorium and boxes. All the other lights in the Old Vic bars and front-of-house dim when we turn them all on. There is also a run of GLP XBar 20s which are strategically tucked up high and out of sight above the rig; given they are a very modern-looking fixtures.”
Due to both the length and depth of the traditional Old Vic stage, Howard and his team had to devise a way in which to successfully recreate the concert feel whilst utilising the somewhat limited space available. He explains: “On this show, we drew on three followspots: two Robe T1s with Robe Lightmaster controllers (both manually controlled). A Cyrano is also used at the back of the house for that more classic concert feel but helps out throughout too.”

Latest Issue. . .