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The Commitments Hit the Road with White Light
UK – Following its record-breaking two year run in London’s West End, The Commitments is now embarking on a UK tour for the first-time ever. Adapted for the stage by Roddy Doyle, it tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young, working-class musician who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateurs and friends into the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced. The show is currently visiting venues up and down the country. As one of the leading lighting suppliers for touring theatre, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.
The lighting designer on the show is Jon Clark, who also lit the West End production. Callum Humphries is the chief electrician, working alongside Sophie Wilkins as well as the touring production electrician Justin Cook. He comments: “As chief LX, it’s my role to not only run the electrics department but also recreate Jon’s design within each venue. This includes positioning and focusing individual fixtures along with ensuring that the lighting accurately reflects the design created during tech week.”
Due to the show being a musical and featuring a variety of numbers, this means it relies on a very specific lighting set-up. Callum adds: “The lighting for every single number is unbelievably precise so my role is to ensure that we are hitting the exact mark every time. For this show, we have 24 Martin MAC Aura XBs positioned overhead along with 30 moving lights which are programmed in presets. For the side-lighting, we’ve used four ETC Revolutions to provide the right amount of coverage.”
As the show focuses on the rise of a soul band, it incorporates a lot of the band’s performances on stage. Callum states: “We really wanted to create a rock & roll vibe and drew on 68 Scrollers and 14 front of house sidelights to fully immerse the audience within these scenes, recreating a live concert on stage.”
As with any show on tour, the lighting rig had to adapt to the various venues it was visiting. With The Commitments, the production team also had to work around the complex set. Callum comments: “Due to its various intricacies, the set that takes around six hours to install within each venue. Therefore, in every theatre, we position the lights, allow the set to be built and then relight once everything is in place. That’s why it’s so important to have reliable equipment as we have very limited time to programme the lighting hence there’s very little room for error.”
The tour started at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, and is currently at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield. It will continue to tour across the country right through until May 2017 where its final venue will be the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford.
Callum adds: “This is one of the biggest touring productions I’ve worked on. Nothing has been scaled down from the West End run. Rather, the show is bigger and louder than ever before. While the production is extremely ambitious, it’s been made much easier by having the support and guidance from the WL team who have been brilliant throughout.”
photos: Johan Persson
24th November 2016
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