Johan Persson

The Show Must Go On for White Light

Last month, the Palace Theatre in London’s West End played host to The Show Must Go On – a unique concert which celebrated the very best of the London theatre scene whilst raising vital funds for theatrical charities. The show featured select performances from over 18 West End shows, including The Lion King, Matilda, & Juliet, Come From Away, Back to the Future and many more, as well as having a 50 strong cast, crew and orchestra. This included Olivier Award-nominated Lighting Designer Howard Hudson who approached White Light (WL) to provide the lighting equipment. 



The Show Must Go On was produced by Theatre Support Fund and MZG Theatre and all profits went to Acting For Others and the Fleabag Support Fund. Following a year in which theatres have been hit incredibly hard due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the production wanted to support the thousands of creatives who have not worked for several months as well as celebrate the shows that have recently been absent from our stage. Howard explains: “I was tasked with lighting each performance with different looks in order to give each show its own identity. Whilst we had to ensure the rig would work for every performance, we tried to give some unique colour identity, whether that was based on a particular moment or influenced by the production’s artwork, which acted as a subtle visual nod to the audience. 



He continues: “The set comprised of a large LED Neon sign with a deck upstage for the choir and more LED strips within the orchestra, with featured logo-clad flightcases downstage right and left. The sign and the strips, along with the large curtain at the back of the stage, gave us our main elements with which to colour each performance and the strips provided eye candy for the more upbeat numbers. We decided to drop in the bars to give the stage a more concert vibe as the rig height for the show which normally plays at the Palace is very high”. 











With the show only having a handful of live performances, this meant that there was a limited rehearsal and technical period. Howard explains: “We essentially only had one session in which to plot some initial looks for each performance. Following this, we had two tech sessions with the orchestra in which we’d run each number twice and then move on. As such, my brilliant programmer, Dan Haggerty, and I had to be very swift with our decision making and cross our fingers tightly that it would all work when we brought it together! As the final performance was going to be recorded and streamed across the globe by NT Live, we also had to work alongside the team who conducted some camera tests before we eventually went live”.   






In terms of the fixtures utilised, Howard was able to largely draw on the existing rig currently in place at The Palace, which was supplied by WL. He explains: “The rig in situ at The Palace Theatre was thankfully very substantial. As such, we mainly used the VL3500s, XBar 20s and Lustr 2 systems and sporadically drew on some of the Revolutions which is the other main fixture there. We brought in some additional GLP XBar 20s to uplight our backcloth and also 7 Pickle Patts which we gelled as back of shot dressing. These were also useful as blinder type units for several moments. The 2 followspots were also vital for a concert with so little tech time, and the FOH follow spot position at the Palace is brilliantly angular and worked very well on camera”. 






The show was performed live to a socially-distanced audience from Wednesday 2nd June to Sunday 6th June, with the final performance being recorded by NT Live. The live recording was then subsequently made available for a week afterwards. 











Howard concludes: “With this production, it was just great to be back in the room with so many brilliantly talented people. I’ve really missed the community of our business and just to spend time with people I hadn’t seen for so long was excellent. It was also for a fantastic cause as well and has managed to offer some aid to those who have struggled, and continue to do so, due to the events of last year”. 






Photos courtesy of Johan Persson.




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