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Avolites rubs the Magic Lamp at Blackpool Grand Theatre

22 February 2017

UK - Avolites rubs the Magic Lamp at Blackpool Grand Theatre

Lighting designer Andy Webb seized a recent pantomime production of “Aladdin” staged at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, UK as the opportunity to design an all-Robe LED moving and specials lighting rig.
Andy had been working on an LED lighting concept for the last two pantomime seasons … with an increasing percentage of the rig becoming LED, and this year he felt the time was right to make a complete switch to LED moving lights and specials. 
“Having designed the show around the LED fixtures and having used Avolites consoles for over a year now, it seemed a logical choice to design this year’s show for UK Productions on a Tiger Touch 2 console running version 10 software”.
The demands of panto are quite specific. Lighting has to be colourful and psychedelic to mimic the outlandish fantasy sequences at the core of the genre, and everything has to be mega-fast to keep pace with the onstage action, snappy dialogue, not to mention the endless one-liners and constant innuendo!
Given all that, Andy also decided to take an aesthetic departure this year in making the show darker, edgier and altogether more sinister. “I wanted to really ramp up the contrasts between the evil environments like Abanazer’s Cave and the bubble-gum pop-tastic full cast scenes,” he explained.
Eight out of the ten Robe DL4S Profiles were rigged on LX bars 1 and 2, with the other two on the FOH balcony position, The FOH DL4S Profiles were also used for specials and pick-ups and they were complimented by a DL4F Fresnel wash on LX bar 4 which proved ideal for creating a central back wash across the stage. 

Photo: Martin Dodd

Then 8 x LEDWash 600s were placed on LX1, 2, and 3 for general stage top light, for highlighting the set and cloths, and 24 x   PARFect 100s were rigged on two sets of side booms stage left and right. A pair of LEDWash 300s on the front boom position provided some basic wash augmentation. 

The 14 x Spikies were divided into a batch of 7 on LX 4 with the rest all in FOH positions including in the Royal Boxes and right at the top of the FOH booms

Andy takes up the story, “With improvements in the cue stack system for running a theatre production, plus having the touch screen built into the console it makes life quick and easy when programming a pantomime. Plus with the flexibility of the touch screen to command the console I can build up my groups and fixtures which then means I do not have to remember channel numbers when programming and can do it all visually off the console. So, no longer do I have to keep referring back and forward to my paper design.”

Photo: Martin Dodd

He also used around 60 house generics on this show, approximately 20 of which were FOH Source Fours adding extra general colouring and warm / cool options, with  around 30 1K fresnels overhead adding top light and some extra stage cover … but the bulk of the work was done by the automated LED rig. 
Continuing on the console, Andy says “Also with the new function of the colour Halo ring around the buttons on the screen I can now colour match to the key on my paper plan, i.e. all DL4S’s green halo, so it allows me to quickly via muscle memory refer to my plan on the console in relation to the paper plan. The performance featured 285 cues, all triggered by the chief LX running the console, cued via the company DSM who called the show”.
The LED lighting equipment was supplied by CEG Hire & Productions from Norfolk with additional support from Robe UK.
Andy really enjoyed being back at the Grand for the second year in a row. “We had the same theatre crew and technical team, who were once again brilliant to work with and helped everything come together smoothly and efficiently under a lot of time pressure. The console worked great, and being quick to learn was another important factor as the console had to be operated by the house team at the Grand for the 51 show run”.