Playing Now: Amour by Rob Halliday

Amour , Charing Cross Theatre. Photographer:  Scott Rylander

Amour, Charing Cross Theatre. Photographer: Scott Rylander

Amour, lit by Rob, opened at the Charing Cross Theatre in London last night.

A ‘musical fantasy’ with music by the multi award-winning Michel Legrand and English lyrics by Jeremy Sams from the original by Didier Van Cauwelaert, the show is adapted from the 1943 short story Le Passe-Muraille by Marcel Aymé. The show enjoyed a short run in New York in 2002; this is its first professional production in the UK.

Produced by Danielle Tarento, the production is directed by Hannah Chissick, choreographed by Matt Cole with design by Adrian Gee. The show continues follows on from Rob’s collaborations with Hannah on Sweet Smell of Success and Cry Baby over the last year; they will work together again next month on The Wild Party at the Royal Academy of Music.

Amour: [link]
Gallery: [link]

Playing Now: Man Of La Mancha by Rob Halliday

Man of La Mancha  - London Coliseum. Photographer: Manuel Harlan

Man of La Mancha - London Coliseum. Photographer: Manuel Harlan

Rob has been working with Rick Fisher once again, this time on the new production of the musical Man of La Mancha at the London Coliseum.

Produced by Michael Grade and Michael Linnit with English National Opera, the show follows on from the success of their earlier collaborations on Sweeney Todd, Sunset Boulevard and Chess. Rarely seen in the UK since its 1969 West End debut, this new production is directed by Lonny Price, choreographed by Rebecca Howell, designed by James Noone, with costume design by Fontini Dimou, sound design by Mick Potter and lighting by Rick Fisher. Kelsey Grammar plays the lead role, alongside opera star Danielle deNiese, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Peter Polycarpou.

La Mancha continues the collaboration between Rick and Rob that includes productions of Billy Elliot in the US, Holland, Japan and touring the UK, Mata Hari in Japan and Consent in London, with Rob acting as the associate lighting designer and lighting programmer.

Careful planning was required to work around James Noone’s complex set, and to combine elements of ENO’s lighting rig with additional elements, particularly a complex wrap-around cyclorama lit by a combination of Robert Juliat Dalis and ChromaQ ColorForce LED fixtures. The rig also made use of Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot, Martin TW1 and PRG Icon Stage lighting fixtures, as well as Clay Paky’s Axcor Beam300 ‘LED Sharpy’ used to dramatic effect in the show’s Knight of the Mirrors sequence. Lighting equipment for the show was supplied by White Light, PRG and TSL.

Rob worked alongside ENO lighting supervisor Ian Jackson-French and senior lighting technician Adrian Plaut and the ENO lighting team plus production electrician John Delaney and production manager Patrick Molony to deliver the show on a tight schedule.

Man of La Mancha runs until June 8th at the London Coliseum.

Man of La Mancha [link]

Playing Now: Shrek by Rob Halliday

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Rob has just completed lighting Shrek at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, for GSA.

As GSA’s Mig Burgess has delighted in pointing out online, the production uses five (or more) shades of green - a colour not normally seen much out of panto season, but which becomes quite useful when the leading character has a green face!

The show’s lighting has been supported by Ambersphere, allowing students to experience the Robert Juliat Dalis cyc lights, and the Ayrton Ghibli and Clay Paky K20 and Axcor Beam 300 LED moving lights.

GSA and Ambersphere are holding an open day about this equipment and the latest advances in colour rending with LED sources - plus the chance to see the rig in action over extracts from the show - this Wednesday, March 25th, from 2-5pm; Rob will be there to talk about LEDs, lighting when the leading performer is green and anything else that comes up!

Shrek at the Yvonne Arnaud: [link]
GSA / Ambersphere Lighting Open Day: [link]

Adelphi, +21 by Rob Halliday

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Twenty-one years after working on the musical Chicago at London’s Adelphi Theatre with lighting designer Ken Billington, Rob is back at the Adelphi Theatre with lighting designer Ken Billington and the musical Waitress.

“Ken called and asked if I’d like to program the London production of Waitress,” Rob explains. “What else could I say other than - same theatre, twenty-one years later, why not? Ken of course immediately replied that we’d have no problem getting in to the theatre since we both look exactly the same now as we did then…”

With music and lyrics by the award-winning Sara Bareilles, book by screenwriter Jessie Melson and direction by Diane Paulus, the show has already enjoyed considerable success in New York and on tour in the USA.

The show’s design team also includes scenic designer Scott Pask, costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlab and sound designer Jonathan Deans.

Working with Billington are associate lighting designer Aaron Porter, assistant lighting designer Douglas Green, and production electrician Gerry Amies - another veteran of that original London production of Chicago.

Waitress is previewing now at the Adelphi Theatre.

Waitress London: [link]

Playing Now: Cry-Baby by Rob Halliday

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Rob has just completed lighting the musical Cry-Baby for the ArtsEd School in London; the show opened tonight.

The show is directed by Hannah Chissick, for whom Rob lit Sweet Smell of Success at the Royal Academy last summer. It is choreographed by Chris Whittaker, designed by Philip Whitcomb, with musical direction by Tamara Saringer and sound design by Tom Marshall. It plays until Saturday January 26th.

Cry-Baby at Arts Ed: [link]

A Lovely Surprise by Rob Halliday

Rob was surprised, delighted, humbled, flattered, proud and incredibly grateful to be presented with Life Membership of the Association of Lighting Designers, along with lighting designers Robbie Butler and Paule Constable, at the annual Lighting Lunch on Monday.

This wonderful gift was presented by the ALD to recognise the work the three have carried out ‘in recognition of service to the development of the Association, with special reference to the Stage Stage Lighting Campaign during 2018.‘

Save Stage Lighting is the campaign that was brought rapidly to life at the start of the year in response to the threat that the European Union’s proposed new Ecodesign Lighting regulations to irrevocably damage performance lighting. Created by the ALD, the Campaign quickly attracted a great deal of attention with its weekend of projecting the #SaveStageLightng logo inside and outside many of the highest profile theatres and other performance events across Europe. Rob and the ALD also worked to ensure that the issue was clearly explained to anyone interested, in particular publishing an explanatory document alongside Focus magazine, and regular updates on the ALD’s website.

More importantly, the campaign marshalled the support of other organisations across Europe, including PLASA, the Society of London Theatre, many of the UK and Europe’s key theatres and commercial producers, VPLT in Germany, OETGH in Austria, the Association of Swedish Lighting Designers and many others including manufacturers and lighting suppliers, ultimately marshalled by the European producer’s league, Searle. Their collective work resulted in a meeting with the EU’s Energy team that opened a channel of discussion and led to a number of key exemptions being included in the next draft of the regulation. This still left a number of key issues unresolved, and the ALD’s SaveStageLighting team has been working to brief the UK and other governments since, in the run up to the final meeting to discuss further changes to the regulations. Ironically, that meeting took place in Brussels at the same time as the Lighting Lunch! Full details of the very final text of the regulation are not yet known, though it has been suggested that many of the outstanding issues relating to entertainment lighting have been resolved.

“Being surprised with this during the Lighting Lunch was slightly overwhelming,” Rob recalls, “and so while I tried to point out that this was about far more than the work I or Robbie or Paule had done and thanked a few people, I inevitably missed so many out. But all of the work on this during the year has really been a wonderful team effort, with the wider ALD #SSL team of Michael Hulls, Jim Laws, Mark Jonathan, Lucy Carter, Matt Drury, Ian Saunders and Jo Town, with PLASA, in particular Adam Bennette and Mike Wood, with Patrick Woodroffe and his ability to get on the radio and then speak so eloquently about what we do, with the other organisations across Europe, with all of the theatres that supported #SSL, in particular the National Theatre, with everyone at Pearle and the IALD in Brussels, with all of the MPs and MEPs who stood up and supported us, with the big theatre producers in the UK, with Russell Lucas who made sure we spoke to the smaller theatres as well and organised an opportunity to do so and, most importantly, with the 85,000+ people who signed the on-line petition in support of this. Never again do we get to say that no-one understands or appreciates what it is that we do. Thankyou to each and every one.”

#Save Stage Lighting at the Association of Lighting Designers: [link]

A Day Trip to Blackburn by Rob Halliday

Exchange, Blackburn, during set-up

Exchange, Blackburn, during set-up

Rob was delighted to be able to squeeze in a day trip to Blackburn to help an old friend, lighting designer and visual artist Jen Kagan, with her project to use light to bring new life to the Blackburn Cotton Exchange as part of the Blackburn Festival of Light.

Rob has known and worked with Jen since 1993’s production of Piaf starring Elaine Paige, and their work together has included both re-creating existing productions (including David Hersey’s designs for Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Oliver! and Oklahoma!) and creating new designs for show such as Pan in Australia and the 2004 tour of Miss Saigon.

Jen has gone on to a successful career creating events and experiences that use the techniques of lighting and stagecraft to create interactive installation work to tell unique stories.

The Blackburn project sought a light-based scheme to bring the Cotton Exchange building - long subdivided into cinemas, now stripped back to its ceiling and walls but in a rather run-down state - to life, both to remind people of its grandeur and to raise the possibility of it taking on a new life, possibly as a performing arts venue.

Jen’s scheme combined lighting and video projection playing through the dramatic windows that run the length of the building.

With the project supported by local supplier HSL, an assortment of efficient, reliable equipment is in use - an important consideration given that the scheme must run for three months with minimal running costs and maintenance requirements. Control is from an ETC Ion console, which receives MIDI triggers from a series of ‘doorbells’ positioned outside the venue, allowing passers-by to trigger different events within the building; the Ion, in turn, triggers the video playback system, and also starts and stops the lighting at the start and end of each evening using real-time events.

Rob spent a day in Blackburn helping to configure the Ion, setting up a user-friendly magic sheet interface, a cue structure, chases, MIDI triggers and more (as well as focussing a few lights!), and then provided telephone support as the project moved to its opening night.

The project is in action now, and runs through to February 2019.

Blackburn Cotton Exchange Light Project: [link]
Jen Kagan: [link]
HSL: [link]
Blackburn Festival of Light: [link]

It’s Panto Time - Oh Yes It Is! by Rob Halliday

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Pantomime season is in full swing across the UK, and Rob has just completed two pantos in two weeks, programming for lighting designer David Howe and producer QDos.

The shows were Aladdin at Glasgow’s beautiful, epic King’s Theatre, and Peter Pan at the wonderfully intimate, focused Theatre Royal in Nottingham - quite different spaces, but both giving their audiences (many discovering theatre for the first time) an intimate connection with the wonderful, uniquely British performance style that is panto.

The rigs for both shows were supplied by HSL in Blackburn, just two of the fifty-plus pantomimes the company is supplying this holiday season. As a result the rigs included quite a mixture of equipment, including Martin Mac Viper Performances and Mac 700 Washes, Mac101 LED wash lights, Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots and more, controlled in both cases from ETC Eos consoles. Best of all: a trick exploding moving light controlled from the lighting console, to great comic effect!

Rob was delighted to work with David Howe once again, having not sat alongside him at a production desk for - well, for some considerable time! They were well supported by production electrician Ed Locke and the wonderful, welcoming crews of both theatres.

Both shows run until early in the new year…. though such is their success that tickets for either are hard to come by.

Aladdin, Glasgow: [link]
Peter Pan, Nottingham: [link]
QDos Entertainment: [link]
David Howe: [link]