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White Light Puts on Horror Show with Toxic Avenger

THE TOXIC AVENGER THE MUSICAL 1 Mark Anderson as Toxie Phorto Irina ChiraBased on the 1984 cult classic, The Toxic Avenger tells the story of the citizens of Tromaville who are crying out for a hero. Enter Melvin Ferd the Third who is tossed into a vat of toxic waste and transformed into The Toxic Avenger, New Jersey’s first superhero! Following sold-out runs at Southwark Playhouse and Edinburgh Festival, the show is making its West End debut at the Arts Theatre. White Light has been called upon to provide the lighting equipment.

The Toxic Avenger is written by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan who are the Tony Award-winning team before the hit West End musical Memphis. It is lit by Nic Farman, who has worked on the show since its first London run. He comments: “I’ve worked with the director, Benji Sperring, many times before and my brief for this production was to have a lot of fun and be brave with my design. We often like to create bold stage pictures filled with colour and, for this show, it was especially important to create the cartoon style world in which the musical is set”.

THE TOXIC AVENGER THE MUSICAL 16 Oscar Conlen-Morrey Natalie Hope Ché Francis Photo Irina ChiraThe show first opened at the Southwark Playhouse last year and Nic believes that the musical still embraces its B-Movie origins. He comments: “For the West End version, we wanted to ramp up the rock feel of the show and add more gig lighting to a rocky soundtrack. Similarly, the Southwark version was in thrust, whereas the Arts is in a proscenium arch, meaning we had to think about how to keep the audience as fully engaged as they were in the smaller space. As a result, takis, the designer, gave us a low apron to help get the cast down to the audience levels and I was allowed to light right out into the crowd”.

This change in space meant that Nic had to make some additions to his previous rig. He comments: “I have drawn on a lot of Chauvet Professional units, who have been particularly supportive of me and the show. We have Maverick Mk2 spots, Maverick Hybrids, Ovation FC profiles and Ovation battens which all allow us to create great impact with colour and beam work. We also hired in some GLP X4s and X4 Bar 20s, with the bars working really well as backlight blinders. I also spec’d Elation Six PAR’s which have become my go to LED par because of their high output.

THE TOXIC AVENGER THE MUSICAL 13 Mark Anderson as Toxie Photo Irina ChiraHe continues: “The other facet of the design is that we inlaid sections of the floor and pipework that makes the set up with pixel tape. Clancy Flynn, my Production Electrician and Programmer, built a system around my design”. Clancy explains: “We have 50 universes of Enttec pixel tape in the set, all controlled over ArtNet from a HippoCritter triggered by the lighting console. The control system was designed to maximise animations over the tape while keeping DMX channel requirements to an absolute minimum. WL supplied the Hippocritter media server that manages the images played over the tape, as well as the Pixelators that act as the LED drivers. They also sorted out the sale of the tape, PLink injectors and drivers we required.”

The show, which has now opened to critical acclaim, marks Nic’s official West End debut. He comments: “Seeing the show grow from the fringe to the West End has been brilliant and doing that with a great team around me has been a joy. I couldn’t have picked a better show to be my first West End musical as the lighting plays an important role in the story telling, as well as reinforcing the music and managing to do a couple of jokes of its own.

He adds: “I couldn’t have got the show off the ground without Clancy, who oversaw all of the load in, prep work and designed the network to run the pixel mapping. David and Jamie at the Arts were incredible at facilitating putting in a tricky show and couldn’t have been more helpful, as were Chauvet Professional who helped make the show look how I hoped it would. As always, a massive thanks to WL for their support, especially Jonathan Haynes and Jim Dewhurst, who helped us spec the show from the pixels through to the rig”.

Photos courtesy of Irina Chira.