Farewell, Les Misérables by Rob Halliday

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A sad day: Saturday 13th July 2019 saw the final performance of the original and best Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre in London.

Les Mis opened at London’s Barbican Theatre in October 1985, transferring to the Palace Theatre in December that year; it moved to the Queen’s in April 2004.

Rob’s connection with the show began with the 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in December 1995, creating the light curtain flag for the triumphant end of the first act. That image can still be seen on the cover of the recording of that event.

Having worked with lighting designer David Hersey since 1993, Rob was then involved in the introduction of moving lights to Les Mis for the 1997 UK tour, originally with the aim simply to cut down on focus time on the road, but in fact allowing David Hersey to revisit the show and add some more precise detail and some greater variation in colour range. That tour used DHA’s Digital Light Curtains alongside High End StudioColors, with the entire rig - conventional and moving lights - controlled from one single lighting console, an approach that was unusual then but the standard way of working now.

That production formed the basis of the tenth anniversary Australian production of the show later the same year, a production which toured the world for several years, and then the Belgian production of the show in Antwerp in 1998. He was also involved with the show’s return to New York in 2006.

The moving light element of the rig was expanded for the transfer to the Queen’s. adding Pitching Digital Light Curtains, swapping the StudioColors for Vari-Lite VL2000s, and adding some Vari-Lite VL3500s for gobo work, including projecting the show’s famous captions.

Les Mis is a remarkable show, a remarkable piece of theatre, a remarkable production created by Trevor Nunn, John Caird, designer John Napier, lighting designer David Hersey and costume designer Andreanne Neofitou,” Rob comments. “It was an honour and a privilege to be a tiny part of the show’s history, to get to see just how this brilliant, magical piece of staging worked- though I have to say that watching the production for the last time just before it closed, as an audience member, no headset on, no cues to worry about, there were still moments that took me completely by surprise! It is an amazing creation, made by an amazing team. It will be missed.”

Rob notes also the countless people who have looked after the show with such care over the years, including associate lighting designers Jenny Kagan, Ted Mather, Rachael McCutcheon and the late Richard Pacholski, and the countless electricians who have looked after the rig, run the console (and smoke!) or driven the show’s followspots, including Mike Cordina and his team at the Queen’s Theatre.

Les Mis is just one of the many shows Rob worked on for Cameron Mackintosh (programming just about every one of the producer’s shows from 1994’s Oliver through to 2010’s Betty Blue Eyes). It was also one show out of the many on which he collaborated with David Hersey, starting with Piaf in 1993 and on through such notable productions as Oklahoma!, Miss Saigon, the Tony-award winning Equus and most recently Showboat at the New London Theatre.

Rob writing about Les Mis in The Stage: [link]
The Official Les Misérables website: [link]

Playing Now: City of Angels by Rob Halliday

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Second up in this year’s Royal Academy of Music summer season of musicals: City of Angels.

The production is directed by Bruce Guthrie, choreographed by Lee Proud, designed by David Harris with costume design by Simon Wells, video design by Gillian Tan and sound design by Mike Walker.

Always a complex show, this production was further complicated by being double cast. Nonetheless with the support of the RAM team, particularly production manager Michael ‘Skip’ Francis, and excellent stage management and technical teams the show opened to great acclaim.

City of Angels at RAM: [link]

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Playing Now: Tree of Codes by Rob Halliday

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Tree of Codes, the acclaimed dance show on which Rob collaborated with director-choreographer Wayne McGregor, visual designer Olafur Eliasson and composer Jamie xx, returns to Paris this week for a season at the Bastille Opera.

Since the show debuted at the Manchester Festival in 2015, it has been seen around the world - in New York, Paris (at the Garnier Opera), Aarhus, Melbourne, Sydney and Hong Kong.

The show plays as part of the Bastille’s rep between June 26th and July 14th, with tickets selling fast.

[link]

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

Playing Now: The Wild Party by Rob Halliday

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Rob has been back at the Royal Academy of Music, continuing a working relationship with the Academy’s summer musicals stretching back 20 years to A…. My Name Is Alice in 1999.

This year the first of the two shows is The Wild Party, directed by Hannah Chissick and choreographed by Chis Whittaker, with whom Rob worked on the musical Cry Baby earlier in the year. The production is designed by David Harris, with costume design by Simon Wells and sound design by Mike Walker. The show’s production electrician was Dan Bowler, with Mark Matthews as lighting programmer.

The Wild Party is playing now, and will be followed by a RAM favourite, City of Angels

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

On Show In Prague: Giudizio Universale by Rob Halliday

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Rob is delighted and proud to announce that he and his design collaborators on the spectacular show Giudizio Universale, have been selected as part of the British display at the Prague Quadrennial design exhibition.

Featured as part of the website that is an element of the Society of British Theatre Designer’s Staging Places display in Prague, the site showcases the work of Rob, co-lighting designer Bruno Poet, projection designer Luke Halls and scenic designers Stufish.

Giudizio Universale, which tells the story of Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel through live performance, lighting, sound and all-encompassing video projection, continues to play to great acclaim at the Auditorium Conciliazione in Rome.

Staging Places: [link]
Prague Quadrennial: [link]
Giudizio Universale: [link]

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]