It’s Panto Season Again for White Light. Oh Yes It Is!


Light is supplying the lighting equipment to more than 25 pantomimes and

Christmas shows this festive season.







many theatres, Christmas marks their busiest time of the year, as stages up and

down the country fill with dames, beanstalks, ugly sisters and flying carpets.

A firm favourite in the panto world is Peter Pan and WL is supplying

productions at Birmingham Rep, Brighton Metropole, Epsom Playhouse and

Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre. The production at Epsom Playhouse is

being lit by Simon Banks, who comments: “My brief for the show was actually

very open, with the only request being that we managed to get across a period

feel for the more traditional story elements whilst being able to go ‘full

panto’ for the big production numbers and set pieces. When working on

pantomime, I’ve often found that less is more and you can really play with the

audience’s responses by more traditional creative means such as shifts of mood

and emphasis”.







terms of other popular productions, WL is going to the ball with Cinderella

at Norwich Theatre Royal, Cambridge Arts Theatre and The Hexagon, Reading,

whereas Jack and the Beanstalk is entertaining audiences at Harlow

Playhouse, Eastbourne Theatres and The Harlequin Theatre, Redhill. Snow

White is playing at Pavilion Theatre Rhyl and the Beck Theatre, Hayes

whereas Aladdin is at The Anvil, Basingstoke. Mother Goose is

thrilling audiences at the Millfield Theatre and The Marlowe, Canterbury,

whilst Robin Hood is on stage at Salisbury Playhouse. WL is also supplying

several versions of A Christmas Carol, including an immersive production

at IMMERSIVE LDN along with a version at the Old Vic, which WL is supplying for

the third year running.







previously lit Jack and the Beanstalk at Salisbury Playhouse, lighting

designer Nic Farman is back at the theatre this year to light Robin Hood.

He comments: “With Robin Hood, I

was tasked with using bright and bold colours to help create the world of

Sherwood Forest and the Sheriff of Nottingham’s Castle. With the design relying

on saturated colours and bright beams, I knew I wanted a flexible and dynamic

rig. Overhead was a combination of Mac III Profiles and GLP X4 Washes which

gave me great options for colour and gobo washes. A side light and pipe end rig

of ETC ColorSource Profiles allowed me to have a fully flexible stage wash

which was combined with Chroma-Q Color Force 12 and 72s to light the portals

and cloth tops. At front of house, there were a number of Martin MAC Viper

Performances to give me a full stage and cloth gobo wash. All of these allowed

me to achieve the bold looks I wanted; something that lighting a panto often

encourages you to do”.






Alongside pantomimes, many theatres are also

staging more traditional Christmas shows. One of these is Treasure Island,

which is a Bolton Octagon Theatre production being performed at the Macron

Stadium. The lighting designer is Johanna Town, who comments: “My brief for

this show was to light the piece as naturally as possible and treat most of the

song changes with soft shifts. The venue,

which was obviously not your traditional theatre space, had a false stage with

no access equipment allowed. As such, all the overhead rig had to be moving

lights and due to power requirements, had to be almost all LED. I chose ETC LED

profiles and Auras as my main wash lights and then had some GLP X Bars as

overhead toplight to work in the songs and give a soft wash for the

scenes. I also added Vipers for additional atmosphere. Similarly, the

scenery was a large landscape flatage representing walls and clouds and

mountains, which was then washed using Robert Juliat Dalis 860s due to their

incredible short throw”. 







Johanna, working on a show like this not only varies from a standard theatrical

production in terms of the creative brief, but also due to the impact it can

have: “For Christmas shows, it’s vital that you make it exciting for its young audience, introduce lots of

looks and images they can take away, and hopefully initiate a love for theatre

and live performance. I think any show for children should feel exciting and

have lots of imagination for them to enjoy; which is the pleasure of designing

a Christmas show”. 






Another show that WL is

supplying the lighting for is The Nutcracker which is currently running

at the Theatre Royal Portsmouth. Lighting Designer Adam King takes us through

his process: “Part of my brief is transporting the

audience into the world of the Nutcracker from the moment they walk into the

auditorium; something I’m able to achieve by softening the house light

system and adding more colour. In terms of the show itself, my main role was to

make each location featured feel ‘magical’ every time the characters

visited. As the set remains largely the same, it’s my job to make

sure the audience followed the narrative through the changes in light; as well

as offer those moments of magic throughout”.






Whilst WL is supplying a host of Christmas shows this year, the company is still extremely busy with non-festive productions. In the West End alone, the company is providing the lighting for a multitude of newly-opened shows, including Teenage Dick at the Donmar Warehouse, Amélie at The Other Palace, Touching the Void at the Duke of York’s, Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse along with the soon-to-open Les Misérables at the recently refurbished Sondheim Theatre. The company is also supplying a range of festive events, such as the numerous outdoor ‘Christmas at’ which include Bedgebury, Belton, Blenheim, Dunham Massey, Edinburgh, Kew Gardens and Stourhead.






WL’s Managing Director Bryan

Raven comments: “It’s been another incredibly busy year here at WL in which we’ve

cemented our position as the leading lighting supplier to West End and UK

touring theatre. It’s a fitting end to a great twelve months to be working

across the country on a range of festive shows, supplying lighting designers

with the exact equipment they need. We’d like to say thanks to all of those

who’ve drawn on our services in 2019 and we look forward to working with you

once again in the new year”.






Photos courtesy of The Other

Richard and Natalie Gee.




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