HSL supplied lighting for the popular Bill Kenwright touring production of “Save The Last Dance For Me”, a rousing ‘juke-box musical’ by Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran, with some serious and deeper cultural undercurrents accompanying the infectiously catchy vintage bubbelgum pop of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman – one of the 1960’s most successful hit-writing partnerships.
Lighting was designed by Tim Oliver, who skilfully balanced the diverse requirements of candy pop, theatre and drama as the story of love juxtaposed with cultural values and differences plays out … complete with a full live band who brought a richness and resonance to the piece which has just concluded a 6 month UK tour.
HSL’s Project manager John Slevin commented, “It’s a pleasure working with Tim and the BKL team on another great musical. We had a good efficient prep at HSL and the tour ran smoothly right from the beginning.”
Tim is experienced in creating eye-catching and appropriate lighting for shows in formats that are also practical to tour, and the visual elements – lighting and set - were fundamental to the audience journeying back to a rainy seaside town setting for two young girls to enjoy their first summer holiday without their parents present!
The lighting rig was calculated and designed to utilize seven house LX bars in each venue explained touring LX Gary Cooper … and the positioning of these seven bars was crucial in each venue.
Moving lights were specified to deliver the versatility needed and also to maximise the tight technical time on the get-ins – which was the morning of the first show. Using moving lights, the focus could be completed and updated extremely quickly and efficiently.
Tim also choose primarily LED sources as the basis of the rig as he feels the options are now excellent – in terms of the breadth of the different ranges available, and in the quality of the light together with essential parameters like brightness, whites and colours.
At the core of this production were 14 x Robe DL4X Spots and 25 x DLF Washes, dotted all over the seven bars, proving an extremely robust and reliable choice confirmed Gary.
The DL4Xs were used for most of the cast specials and all the gobo looks throughout the show ... of which there were many onto the set and floor. The DLFs also provided some specials as well as general stage coverage.
Out of 12 x Martin MAC Auras, four were rigged at FOH on the pros arch positions either side of stage for firing tight front cross light neatly on to the front of stage and forestage areas, with the remaining eight on two side booms each side.
HSL devised some innovative side booms based on 3 metre lengths of GP trussing on end, fitted into custom HSL floor brackets which are incredibly stable and also increase the width for clamping options.
Using these also facilitated two Haze Base hazers being rigged on top of two of the trusses, which was the most effective way – given the challenges presented by the location of the set walls – to get fog exactly where needed to enhance the atmospherics.
A tour like this would usually utilise pros and FOH fixtures provided by the venue, but as the rig was heavily LED based, the production decided to tour their own package of LED luminaires for these positions to maintain continuity, colour temperatures and the general quality of the light.
Fifteen ProLights Eclipse LED profiles were rigged on the four stage booms for additional side specials, with another five positioned on the house’s balcony / bridge positions, as available in the venue, to provide a high wash. Another seven were rigged to the front of the circle balcony plus another six on the house proscenium trusses.
They also toured a selection of trussing pieces so FOH / proscenium positions could be improvised, created or augmented as necessary!
The action flitted to multiple locations in the town from the caravan park where the girls were staying to the nearby US Air Force base with the band upstage on a rostra, all part of Mark Bailey’s inventive set design.
Ten Philips eSTRIP 10 LED battens on two LX bars either side of the stage were used to down-light the gauze that came in in front of the 8-piece band, who were lit – when revealed - by the overhead DL floods and spots.
There were also some generics and set practicals. Two sets of portals were loaded with 15 Watt golf-ball bulbs, which looked highly effective when chased, the juke box on stage left was internally lit with some compact generics running through the dimmers together with some other scenic and wall lights.
For control they toured an MA onPC / Command Wing system which was operated by Gary each night. The production LX overseeing the get-ins was Chris Cunningham.
Gary worked on the production from day one and comments, “It has been a great touring team – crew and cast – Tim’s design has worked extremely well … and everything went smoothly lighting wise. The service and support from HSL was excellent ... although we hardly had to contact John or anyone at HSL as we have had no issues ... and that’s how it should ideally be with a touring show!”
Photos by Louise Stickland