Lighting Programming

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]

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]

Show Updates in Macau by Rob Halliday

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In the run-up to Christmas, Rob could be found in Macau - lighting a tree (and a dragon!).

Rob was there on behalf of Woodroffe Basset Design, working with Ptarmigan Integration  to update the lighting equipment on this now ten year old attraction within the rotunda of the Wynn Macau hotel. Two shows an hour are presented, the first the Tree of Prosperity, which appears from the basement and then transforms through four seasons by the magic of light, the second the more dramatic Dragon of Fortune

Originally lit with a combination of Source Four fixtures fitted with Seachanger colour changers and Martin Mac700 fixtures, the lighting rig has now been updated  to use ETC Source Four Lustr2s, Robe DL4 moving lights, Gantom miniature LED spotlights and LED cove lighting from Philips, replacing the original cold cathode system. The updates were completed by a new ETC Gio control system. 

This meant that Rob had to take the original showfile from an ETC Congo showfile, translate it into Eos format, then in advance of the time in Macau carefully match colours and beam parameters from the old fixture types to the new fixture types to give a good base translation of the show. The design was then evolved on site working with lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by the new lighting fixtures - in particular the ability to do long, slow colour fades in the half hour period between each show, all without having to worry about mechanical failures in the colour change systems. 

In addition, Rob had to integrate the lighting system with the new Navigator show control system being installed at the same time by Tait, including feedback systems so that show control can check lighting is alive and responding correctly before running a show. Rob also provided training for the Wynn team, and comprehensive show documentation using his FocusTrack show documentation system, to allow them to precisely maintain the show.

Rob worked alongside a team from Ptarmigan Integration, led by Leslie Yau and Tim Wong, the team from Tait led by Andew Penney and Mike Sharp, and the Wynn Macau team led by Simon Yung. 

The updated show began playing in late December.

Wynn Macau: Tree of Prosperity [link], Dragon of Fortune [link]
Woodroffe Bassett Design: [link]
Ptarmigan Integration: [link]
Tait: [link]

 

Billy Japan: Playing Now by Rob Halliday

Billy Elliot opened in Japan on Tuesday 25th July, to a tremendous reception for what is a really fantastic production of the show.

Rob worked as the Associate Lighting Designer and Lighting Programmer on the show, carrying out all of the pre-production design and planning work, then working with Lighting Designer Rick Fisher in Tokyo to get the show up-and-running. This is the fifth version of Billy Rob has worked on, having also been involved with the last US tour, the London production, the Dutch production and the UK tour, which recently ended a hugely successful year with a short season in Hamburg.

The Japanese production used a rig evolved from that designed for the UK tour, which replaced all of the traditional Source Four-plus-scroller colour changers with ETC Source Four Series2 Lustr LED fixtures. The Japanese production took another step into the world of LED lighting, with Martin Mac Auras replacing the previous Vari-Lite VL2000 Wash fixtures.

Rob and Rick were supported in Japan by a fantastic lighting team (Oshima-sam, Yuta, Katsu, Miwa, Anarin, Mari, Eiji and Takayama-san), a wonderful stage manager (Toku-san), a great production manager (Kanai-san), the wonderful producing team at HoriPro, and a brilliant translator, the wonderful Sonoko.

Billy Elliot plays at the ACT Theatre in Akasaka, Tokyo, until October before transferring to Osaka for a short season there.

[link]

Heading East... by Rob Halliday

With Storyhouse successfully open and its first three shows up and running, Rob has now headed east, to Tokyo, for the new Japanese production of Billy Elliot.

Rob is the Associate Lighting Designer and Lighting Programmer for the show, working alongside Lighting Designer Rick Fisher. Rob has previously served the same role on Billy’s last US tour, the Dutch production, and the current UK tour which is about to set off to Germany to play a season in Hamburg. He also adapted the original production from Strand to ETC lighting control during its long run in London.

Produced by HoriPro, Billy Elliot opens at the Akasaka ACT Theatre in Tokyo in late July and plays there until the autumn before transferring to Osaka. 

[link]