White Light Works Its Magic on Derren Brown’s Showman







Often regarded as the master of mind control and psychological illusion, Derren Brown is known across the globe for his ability to astonish and amaze audiences; whether that’s to millions through his television series or live on stage in his award-winning touring shows. He is now back touring theatres with his first new stage show in six years: Showman. Having supplied the lighting on several of Derren Brown’s previous production, White Light (WL) was called upon to do so again on this occasion. 



As with any Derren Brown show, the contents of Showman remain a closely-guarded secret but as the mysterious man himself promises: ‘It will ultimately be about you, the audience member, because that’s what I find most interesting’. The lighting designer for the show is Charlie Morgan Jones, who has lit Derren’s previous West End and touring production, Underground. He comments: ‘Underground was essentially a ‘Best of’ Derren Brown show, so the directors Andrew O’Connor and Andy Nyman had worked most of the routines before and I was essentially just throwing new light on them. As such, Showman is the first brand-new Derren Brown show I’ve worked on and what a show it is. Like all of Derren’s work, and the reason he’s a master of his craft, the show isn’t just spectacle and ‘how did he do that’. Rather, there’s a beautiful emotional arc throughout and so there is a real pathos that comes with the humour and spectacle; resulting in a truly theatrical experience”. 



So how does a lighting designer approach a show as unique as this? Does it differ greatly from a more traditional play/musical? According to Charlie, the answer is no: “As a designer, I always see my role as enhancing the mood and emotion that appears on stage. It’s almost like being an editor of the film where your job is to point the audience in the right direction and it’s no different for Showman”.






As with any production he works on, Charlie always tries to ensure that he is in the rehearsal room as much as possible. This proved slightly tricky though with Showman: “I was double booked for this show but truly double booked in the sense that I wouldn’t even be in the same country! I had accepted a job as lighting designer on the Copenhagen Opera Festival and due to dates being moved because of certain global pandemics, both this and Showman ended up crossing at the same time. Thankfully, we were able to bring on an amazing Associate Lighting Designer in Clancy Flynn who steered the show through tech to opening night before I returned. Prior to this, we both spent two days at WL’s Visualisation Suite looking at lights and potential cues for the show. Thankfully, both Andrew and Andy are two of the most giving directors you could ask for and really allow you to experiment freely; something that is vital as any brand-new show will evolve through the rehearsal and tech process.” 



Following this, Charlie approached WL’s Customer Service team to provide him with the fixtures he needed for his design. He explains: “My (current) favourite moving light is the VL2600.  It’s versatile, bright, fast and quiet and so was the natural choice to become the work horse of this rig, with 13 units positioned overhead and four out front.  We also use the Rush Par 2, which is beamy when it needs to be beamy, and zoomy when it needs to be zoomy (those are the accurate technical terms FYI).  The preset, where they really show off, is one of my favourite ‘looks’ of the show and we use this at least a couple of times. Topping off the rig is the ever–excellent ETC Source Four Lustr 2, which provides the depth of colour a show like this needs”. 



The show opened just over a month at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and is now visiting over 30 venues across the UK, touring all the way through to October 2022.  



Charlie comments: “After perhaps not the easiest year for those working in our industry, we had just the best time making this show, with one of the most generous teams out there.  My heart goes out to the brilliant lighting team, which included Clancy Flynn, our wonderful Production Electrician, Andy Murrell and Matt Shraga. the lighting programmer who’s only just graduated from Guildhall. As ever, a big thanks to everyone at WL too. The constant support I received throughout this production was so valuable and something that was massively appreciated”.  



Photos courtesy of Charlie Morgan Jones and Greenbeanz Photography.







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