With the festive season now upon us, theatre stages up and down the country are being filled with dames, beanstalks, flying carpets and glass slippers. As a leading lighting supplier to West End and UK touring theatre, White Light is once again suppyling a range of pantomimes this Christmas.
Pantomimes are many venue’s biggest production of the year, with these classic childhood stories often starring household names. An all-time favourite is Aladdin and, this year, WL is supplying several versions of the show, including one at Hackney Empire which is lit by David Howe. He comments: “Hackney Empire’s Aladdin evolved a lot in the rehearsal process, with a lot new music being written specifically for this production. My brief, as ever, was to enhance the whole look of the show and help the audience focus on each story-telling moment. When it comes to equipment, it’s not actually about the flashiest new kit or what’s just arrived on the shelf. Rather, it’s about drawing on fixtures that you know will be reliable and able to cope with 12 performances a week – something WL has in abundance”.
WL is also supplying Aladdin in Cambridge, Crawley, Norwich, Yeovil and Swindon, with the Wyvern Theatre production starring EastEnders legend Adam Woodyatt. The Lighting Programmer for the show is Eden Thornton, who comments: “I’ve now worked on ten pantos over the last six years. They can often be hard work as you’re trying to create a big show in what’s not a great amount of time. That said, it’s very exhilarating. It’s also important to have a good team around you as well as the services of a reliable hire company; hence we try and use WL whenever we can”.
Other popular titles that WL is supplying include Snow White in Bolton and Malvern, along with The Wizard of Oz at the Birmingham Rep and Bolton Octagon. Cinderella is going to the ball in Canterbury, Eastbourne, Guildford and Portsmouth whereas Jack and the Beanstalk is sprouting on stage in both Epsom and Watford. Peter Pan is also flying into Theatre Royal Portsmouth as well as the Park Theatre, London, where Nic Farman is the lighting designer. Nic comments: “I’ve worked on a couple of pantos now and, from my experience, you can really be bold and create beautiful, colourful stage pictures which captivate the audience’s imagination. Peter Pan at the Park Theatre is actually a more traditional version of the play and my role is to use light to create the locations that appear throughout the course of the show. We rely heavily on saturated colour and texture from gobo washes to help transform the relatively small stage for each part of the play. The team at WL have been great in providing me with the fixtures I need to take the audience to places such as Neverland, Mermaids Lagoon and Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship”.
WL also supplied the lighting for Sinbad at the Beck Theatre for BACCES: the British Airways Cabin Crew Entertainment Society which puts on a yearly panto, and in its history has raised over £1M for worthy causes. The Lighting Designer was Jonathan Haynes, who states: “Compared to a traditional play, panto is generally very flashy and colourful, jam packed with fun where anything goes! Basically nothing is off limits, so long as it also helps to tell the story! With this show in particular, as the cast are full-time cabin crew for British Airways, there were only a limited number of rehearsals so I had to have a design that was flexible and could change. For instance, the first tech run was the first time I actually saw the characters’ lavish costumes and so I very quickly had to tune the colours to compliment these; hence it was vital I had equipment that offered versatility”.
The busy panto season is a fitting conclusion to what’s been an extremely busy 2018 for WL, who have supplied the lighting on a range of theatre smashes including Company, The Band, Tina – The Musical, The Inheritance, The Pinter Season alongside long-running hits such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin, Matilda and Les Misérables.
WL’s Managing Director Bryan Raven comments: “It’s been another great year in which we’ve continued working on shows of all sizes all across the country. We are now looking forward to 2019 where we will continue our investment in both the latest technology and expert staff in order to offer lighting professionals the level of service they’ve come to expect from us”.