The musical is currently playing London’s Adelphi Theatre (© Sean Ebsworth Barnes)
UK - Back To The Future, Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard’s popular musical is currently playing London’s Adelphi Theatre, delighting audiences with a spectacular hi-energy production in a show produced by Colin Ingram and his team and directed by John Rando.
Award-winning lighting designer Tim Lutkin and lighting consultant Hugh Vanstone worked closely together and specified a zactrack SMART automated follow system for the show, which allows single and multiple lighting fixtures to be selected and to follow actors and dancers using a combination of tag-and-anchor and UWB (Ultra-Wide-Band) real-time radio tracking technology. This package brings considerable flexibility to the production.
In addition to enabling specific lights to be used as remote follow spots, activated from the console cues for precise moments, Tim has developed a style and creative treatment utilising zactrack with multiple light sources, which has been successfully applied on several shows including three major productions at Disneyland Paris.
“I specifically wanted to use this technique on Back to The Future,” explained Tim, referring to highlighting groups of performers - chorus, dancers, etc., - with several moving lights dotted all over the rig. Rather than having light coming only from one angle or dimension as in ‘traditional’ follow spotting, zactrack SMART allows simultaneously selected lights to cover all angles and illuminate and track their targets from a 360° perspective all around the stage.
This produces a sculpted layer of lighting that makes the performers y pop against the backgrounds and scenic elements, also adding depth and dimension to the stage space and overall visual picture, creating a unique lighting aesthetic. Using multiple fixtures enables faces and bodies to be covered by the zactrack controlled lights, freeing up other fixtures on the rig for other tasks.
For Back to The Future’s final scene at the Town Hall, a front gauze flies in for projections, so traditional FOH follow spots / positions could not have been used to highlight the two main protagonists during this critical time.
However, zactrack controlled lights upstage of the pros are activated to precisely pinpoint Doc and Marty, as Doc races against the clock preparing the DeLorean and the clock tower to harness energy from the lightning bolt to power the Flux Capacitor that will blast Marty - who arrives just in time - back to 1985 in the car! “At this point, zactrack becomes the ‘lighting identity’ of the show,” states Tim.
The lights being used with zactrack SMART on this show are Claypaky Sharpy Washes, but most types of luminaires can be used.
Lighting equipment for the West End run is being supplied via Encore. The eye-catching set was designed by Tim Hatley, video was designed by Finn Ross and sound by Gareth Owen. Ambersphere Solutions is the exclusive distributor of zactrack in the UK and Ireland.

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