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White Light Dragged in for La Cage Aux Folles
UK – With the original Broadway and West End productions winning 11 Tony and two Olivier Awards respectively, La Cage Aux Folles is back for what will be its first ever UK tour. Produced by Bill Kenwright Ltd, this classic stage show stars John Partridge and Adrian Zmed and is currently visiting venues up and down the country. As a leading supplier of nationwide theatre tours, White Light was approached to provide the lighting on this occasion.
La Cage Aux Folles tells the story of Georges and his partner, dazzling drag artiste Albin, who live an idyllic life in St Tropez. Yet when Georges’ son Jean-Michel invites his future parents-in-law over to dinner, Georges and Albin must try and conceal their vibrant lifestyle for an entire evening. The lighting designer for the production is Ben Cracknell. He comments: “From the offset, I knew this show would require two very clear lighting styles: the action taking place ‘on stage’ within La Cage Aux Folles Club and the action taking place in the other locations. It was important for the storytelling to differentiate between the musical and the show within the musical.”
He adds: “For the scenes away from the club, I utilised a clear dramatic lighting style, approaching it as I would a play. As the drama developed into song, this was subsequently heightened using soft followspots and a more saturated colour palette. At the other end of the spectrum, when lighting the club scenes, these were more akin to a Vegas-style cabaret show! With such a dynamic range of numbers, combined with Gary McCann’s incredible set, I wanted to make these sequences as thrilling and vibrant as possible.”
To create his perfect design, Ben drew on WL’s unparalleled lighting range. He comments: “With there often being only one overhead position available when lighting scenes in the various venues, it was crucial that the fixtures offered enough flexibility. I chose Martin MAC Viper Performances for their shuttering and gobo capabilities. These were arrayed in groups of seven to work with the choreography of the La Cage Aux Folles Club onstage numbers. With this arrangement I could pick out the company individually in tableau creating crisp and clean looks. These were also adaptable enough to work for the numerous naturalistic scenes.”
To enhance the shows taking place within the club scenes, Ben used footlights which consisted of GLP X Bar 20s rigged from the front edge of stage onto a Howard Eaton custom-made shelf which also facilitated positions for sound foldback and front fills. To light the individual performers, he relied heavily on Martin MAC Aura XBs rigged on custom Howard Eaton ladders in the wings. The low crosslight was provided by ETC Source Four Series 2 Lustr Profiles and further Martin MAC Vipers were deployed for front of house coverage.
Alongside this marking the first time La Cage Aux Folles has played outside of London in the UK, it also marks the first time that Ben has worked on the show. He comments: “Prior to this tour, I had never even seen the show so I was able to approach it with a completely fresh perspective, allowing me to implement my own style.”
La Cage Aux Folles is currently at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and will travel across the UK until late August, with more dates set to be announced.
Ben adds: “This is a thrilling, extremely flamboyant touring show and I’ve had a brilliant team behind me who have helped make it happen. I’m also very grateful to WL for supplying the equipment and being so helpful.”
photos: Pamela Raith
24th January 2017
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