Tristram Kenton

Anything Goes for White Light at the Barbican

Originally performed on Broadway in 1934, Anything Goes is one of theatre’s most renowned and iconic musicals. Featuring music and lyrics by Cole Porter, the show is set on a cruise liner heading from New York to London and as the audience is introduced to the characters on board, it soon becomes clear it will be anything but smooth sailing. The show has been recently revived at the Barbican Centre in London and White Light was approached to provide the lighting.



This latest production of Anything Goes features a 50 strong cast and ensemble, including Broadway stars Sutton Foster and Rachel York, stage and screen icon Robert Lindsay as well as West End Legend Gary Wilmot. The lighting design is by Tony and Olivier Award-winning Hugh Vanstone, who comments: “Anything Goes is a hugely enjoyable confection and you really cannot go wrong with Cole Porter songs. The show came to me via a circuitous route, originally due to be lit by Neil Austin who had to withdraw due to a clash caused by Covid reshuffles. When I came on board, he very kindly passed on to me all of his preparation to date so a good deal of homework had already been done. Working alongside production electrician Rich Mence I took the rig design from there and sprinkled a few of my usual eccentricities”.



Once he had finalised the plan, Hugh spent a week in rehearsals, which he used to place all of the cues with DSM Steve Haighton. This meant that, come the end of the seven days, they had a ‘book’ and Hugh had a lighting synopsis. He explains: “I need to give a huge shout out to the show’s Production Managers Richard Bullimore and Tom McEvilly. Not only did they do a fantastic job, but when I asked for about 16 hours of dedicated lighting time before the cast came onstage, they generously gave it to me. My Programmer Tom Mulliner and Associate Sam Waddington and I were able to work in the evenings during the fit up and pre-light pretty much the entire show. When the cast joined, every department was on their best game and we teched the entire musical in two days, much to the surprise and delight of all concerned! This is living proof that there is a better way of doing things, rather than the stressful scramble we’ve all become used to!”. 











In terms of the fixtures that were utilised, the rig mainly consists of Viper Performances and VL3000 washes. Hugh comments: “The area that needs to be lit is pretty vast so I needed arc lights to provide crisp, fresh daylight and good blues. I added a handful of Auras for dance crosslight and set dressing, as well as some Encores Warms to supplement the profiles which the Barbican provided front of house. There are also, of course, my customary bucketload of Source Four Pars on the ladders to bolster flesh tones under arc white”.



The show also saw Hugh draw on a fixture he hasn’t previously used. He explains: “As with every show you work on, you are balancing your creative vision with the budget that is available to you. For this show, I worked closely with the Customer Service Team at WL to make the most out of the sum I had available and capitalise on the fixtures selection. This led to some happy discoveries, such as the RJ Dalis Units which I eventually used to light the cyclorama. These were recommended by Dave Isherwood and I was so impressed they have already found their way into some of my other shows!”.



Anything Goes opened to a host of rave reviews and will run until 6th November 2021.


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