Currently playing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Breaking Up is Hard to Do is a musical comedy featuring eighteen songs by pop icon Neil Sedaka. Set during the 1960 Labour Day weekend in New York, it tells the story of Marge and Lois who visit Esther’s Paradise Resort Hotel hoping to find love and romance…The production marks the show’s London premiere. Following its work at fringe venues in both London and across the UK, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.
The lighting design is by Jai Morjaria who was the recipient of last year’s Association of Lighting Designer’s ETC Award. He comments: “Prior to the show, I don’t think I’d even heard of Neil Sedaka. That said, during research, I listened to Sweet Sixteen and slowly realised that I knew quite a few of his songs. This was also the first time I’ve professionally lit a musical. There are over 300 lighting cues and a lot is going on in every scene so it’s been challenging yet worth it when you see the finished product”.
Jai collaborated closely with the director, Jordan Murphy, and the set designer, Richard Cooper, to create a look that would be most suited for the show. Jai states: “Both Jordan and Richard had very bold ambitions artistically. My brief was fairly simple: make the songs look as glamorous as possible and make the holiday camp appear the exact opposite! This was a great starting point and something I was able to build on as we entered rehearsals”.
Having worked with the company previously, Jai approached WL to supply him with the equipment needed for the show. He comments: “For Breaking Up, I decided the most important thing would be colour. I really wanted deep, saturated colours to complement the vibrancy of the set. To keep with the style of the piece, I didn’t want any of the LEDs to be visible to the audience – something that was slightly difficult given the show was in thrust! However, after speaking to WL about my specifications, we came across the Chauvet COLORado 1 Solo fixture which seemed to do exactly what I required.
Jai adds: “I went down to WL’s base and organised a demonstration of the COLORado and realised they were perfect. Thankfully, due to WL’s close relationship with Chauvet, we managed to put together a rig which consisted of 8 x COLORado 1 Solos, 5 x Rogue 2 Spots and 6 x COLORado 2 Tours. This meant we also had to update our control equipment so I drew on an ETC Gio to control the rig”.
The show has now opened and will run until the 23rd April. Jai adds: “This really is a feel good show and it’s great to work on something like this. In regards to the technical elements, we really pushed what we could achieve in a space as intimate as the Gatehouse as we’re all really proud of the show”.
Tom Wilkes, WL’s Business Development Manager, comments: “We were delighted to be able to work with Jai and ensure he had the equipment he needed for this show. While we may supply some of the biggest shows in the West End, we embrace working in a range of venues, regardless of their size or location, to ensure that all of our clients receive the exact same high standard of service”.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Ralph and Joseph Hodges Entertainments.