The production of Dick Whittington at the Hawthorne Theatre in Welwyn offers a central tale of good versus evil with some cheesy jokes and sometimes questionable costumes. The production is a traditional Christmas pantomime and a staple of the British festive period.
However, a tremendous amount of work goes into creating the appropriate theater atmosphere from writing a great script to getting a good cast. Often, the lighting team are the unsung heroes of the performance. They design the lighting scheme to fit a show’s changing moods.
From lighting the bright rooms within the prince’s castle to creating the dark gloom of the villain’s lair, panto (theatrical) lighting is vital for any theater production, as Leigh Mulpeter, the owner of the lighting design company Little Leigh, knows full well.
“For a show of this nature and a venue of this size what was needed was a small, versatile lighting product that could be quickly installed at any venue, so I got on the phone to Ambersphere Solutions, who I have used in the past, to see what they recommended. No sooner said than done, Thor André arrived with some Ayrton NandoBeam™S3 fixtures to demo,” Mulpeter said.
“I was very impressed with their performance. I particularly like the speed of the zoom function, and that the wide beam has a nice, evenly-spread wash. I also like that they are very light and quick which makes them extremely versatile, always an important purchasing factor for a rental company such as ours.”
So, when Dick Whittington entered production, Mulpeter decided to use his new NandoBeam-S3 fixtures for the show.
“The venue was quite small in relation to the size of the set, which made the setup a rather time-consuming affair; consequently, the timeframe for focusing was quite restrictive. However, despite a relatively short tech week, we managed to fix any issues ahead of the show. Weight restrictions, for example, at the Hawthorne Theatre meant the NandoBeams were ideal due to their light weight,” continued Mulpeter.
Mulpeter noted that he primarily used the NandoBeams light set pieces and added color to scenes to highlight the actors.
“They effectively highlighted key elements in important scenes, and their nice beam abilities really came into their own during some of the numbers, “ Mulpeter said.
As most any artist will tell you, there is always room for improvement. “Being my own worst critic, there were definitely elements of the lighting in the production I would change,” Mulpeter said.
“However, with 45 shows over 19 days, and cinema turnarounds most evenings, time was not on our side. It’s nice to know that the show was well received, especially by younger audiences, which I think means we did our job well. Oh, yes we did!”
Mulpeter stated, “Throughout the purchasing process the support from Ambersphere was fantastic. If I ever had a question or an issue they were only a phone call away. Ambersphere is a great company with a great bunch of friendly people and an exceptional approach to customer service. I would definitely use them again.”