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White Light Over the Rainbow at Yvonne Arnaud

The Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre is the largest in Surrey. It offers classes and workshops in order to inspire and develop creative minds within the region. Throughout the year, the group produces a range of plays and musical which are performed in The Mill, which is Yvonne Arnaud’s studio space. Once a year, the company produces a large-scale musical in its main theatre with a cast of 50 Youth Theatre members. The show this year was The Wizard of Oz and White Light was asked to provide the lighting equipment.

The lighting designer for the show was Sarah Sage. She comments: “This is the second year I have lit the summer production for the Youth Theatre, having previously worked on Oliver. It was the first time I’d lit The Wizard of Oz and, having not seen any stage adaptations, I was able to approach in with a fresh pair of eyes”.


As part of her preparation for the show, Sarah attended all of the initial design meetings where she was able to get an insight into the show’s themes and overall concept. She states: “Being part of the early discussions gave me and Set Designer Dan Gent enough time to design the big front portal that would be used in Oz. I was asked to light Kansas in sepia colours and really go wild with the colours in Oz; which is when the cync and portal became very useful to me”.

Having a set-up which would allow such a change in tone was an important aspect of Sarah’s rig. She comments: “I drew on the ETC Colour Source Spots as my front and side light. Their colour mixing is fantastic and gave me versatile face light. To counter this, I drew on the Martin MAC Auras to provide colourful backlight, as these would match my portal and help create the magic of Oz. In terms of the effects, SFX Wheels were positioned on the circle front in order to cover the whole stage with moving storm clouds. I also drew on the Martin MAC 700 Profiles which we used as overhead units to offer enough options for all the effects and specials during the course of the show”.

Following on from her initial talks with Dan, Sarah also approached WL to help create her version of Oz. She states: “For the big front portal which was supplied by Junction Inc, we used 40m of LED tape which was controlled across six LED drivers. This wouldn’t have previously been possible on other Youth Theatre productions but thankfully WL provided a solution that was achievable and within budget”.

An integral part of any production of The Wizard of Oz is the iconic yellow brick road. One of Sarah’s tasks as lighting designer was to create this. She states: “I knew that a generic gobo wash wouldn’t give me the versatility I needed. Therefore I called WL and spoke to Simon Arnold to discuss other options. I knew that the best chance on creating this would be through moving lights. Therefore, drawing on the Martin MAC 700s, Simon helped me find 12 matching gobos which could resemble the brick texture. When it came to plotting, I was able to put each moving light in the correct position with the young cast and build up the opening sequence for the Yellow Brick Road opening number. It took a lot of programming work but the final result looked fantastic!”.

The show recently closed after a week’s worth of performances.

Sarah adds: “I was really proud of this show. I had a fantastic team surrounding me, from the programmer Jon Stacey to the Deputy Stage Manager Vicky Jules to the amazing cast who were able to showcase their brilliant talents to friends and family alike. I am also very grateful to Simon and the rest of the WL team for their guidance throughout”.

Photos courtesy of Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre.