White Light & ETC for magnificent Matilda

Matlida The Musical (photo: Simon Annand, courtesy of AKA)

21 May 2012

UK - The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Matilda - The Musical began life at the Company's Stratford-Upon-Avon venue, the Courtyard Theatre, to rave reviews and sell-out audiences. Having transferred to London's Cambridge Theatre in November 2011, the production has continued its success, last month sweeping the boards at the Olivier Awards when it broke records and took home seven of the prestigious awards.

As well as the awards for best new musical; best actress in a musical (presented jointly to the four actresses in the title role) and best actor in a musical for Bertie Carvel's cross-dressing performance as tyrannical head teacher Miss Trunchbull; technical elements of the show were also awarded. Simon Baker took home the Olivier for Sound Design, whilst Rob Howell won for his Set Design and Peter Darling was awarded for his Choreography. Matthew Warchus' Olivier for his role as Director completed the new musical's astounding success.

Upon entering the Cambridge Theatre it's easy to see why Howells' set has been so heralded. A jumble of scrabble tiles spill out from the proscenium, framing the action in an anarchic, child-like way that perfectly ties in to the world of Dahl and his brilliantly crafted cast of twits, twerps and child geniuses.

From Courtyard to Cambridge:

As the show was first created on the thrust stage of the RSC's Courtyard Theatre, some re-thinking was required for its transfer into the pros-arch Cambridge Theatre. "While the spirit of the design remained the same, given the opportunity for a re-vamp, I re-shaped and improved my design as we made the transition to a pros," LD Hugh Vanstone notes.

A common factor across the two versions was entertainment lighting specialist White Light, who Vanstone turned to for elements of the rig in Stratford and the complete rig in London, continuing a long-running collaboration that this past year alone has seen White Light supply the rigs for both Vanstone's The Wizard of Oz (See LSI April 2011) and Shrek (See LSi July 2011).

In the rig:

For Matilda in London, White Light has supplied a conventional rig that includes ETC Source Four Profiles and Source Four PARs, L&E Nano-Strip M11 striplights, High End Dataflash strobes, Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots, and a diverse selection of moving lights ranging from Vari*Lite VL500s, VL3000Q Washes andVL1000AS Spots to Martin MAC700 Profiles and MACIII units in both Profile and Performance form, plus 12 of JB Lighting's JBLED A7 Zoom LED washlights and 12 Thomas PixelLine LED battens.

Alongside the lighting fixtures, White Light has supplied effects including Look Solutions Viper and Power Tiny smoke machines and Unique hazers; MDG Atmosphere haze machines plus Big Shot confetti cannons. The rig is controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA Light control console. Vanstone is also making use of two PLASA Award-winning RSC Lightlock lighting stabilisers to allow him to rig moving lights on short drift bars without the bars oscillating every time the lights moved. "Given the precision focuses deployed from these two FOH units, the Lightlocks work spectacularly well," the designer notes.

White Light even added a new element to the show during the London rehearsal period. "At the Courtyard, we used PAR Cans and the architecture of the theatre to create the Chokey - a heinous solitary confinement/torture device designed by Miss Trunchbull which she uses to incarcerate each and every one of her pupils," Vanstone explains. "In London, Matthew Warchus came up with the idea of using lasers instead, and my associate Tim Lutkin worked with White Light's Darren Howard to come up with a thrilling effect at the Cambridge." The lasers work well in portraying both the madness of Miss Trunchbull and the sense of fear her Chokey invokes in the long-suffering pupils of Crunchem Hall.

Matilda the Musical is a joyous show in which all creative elements work in synch to perfectly portray the imagery conjured up by Roald Dahl's ever-popular children's story. The RSC has confirmed that the production is due to transfer to Broadway next year after its incredible West End success.

(Claire Beeson)

 

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Matilda production Courtyard Theatre success took home awards A musical role Miss Trunchbull elements show awarded Olivier Cambridge Theatre perfectly Dahl Cambridge transfer design notes lighting White Light Vanstone rig London year both See supplied PAR moving lights units plus LED machines Light every work Chokey pupils lasers

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