Photo by Luk Monsaert Photo by Luk Monsaert

WI Delivers The Beauty Of The Beast

Entertainment industry engineering specialist WIcreations supplied combined comprehensive automation solutions for the recent new production of Disney's hugely successful musical ‘Beauty And The Beast,’ staged at the Flanders Expo in Ghent, Belgium.

WI was asked on-board by show producer Marmalade. The project was coordinated for them by Hans Willems, who comments, “It’s always exciting to be involved in new shows - especially those which appreciate the importance of a good production. Marmalade was a great client, seeking the benefit of our experience, our reputation for safety and also our ideas to add value to the show”.

Directed by Christophe Ameya, with creative choreography from Ish Ait Hamou and imaginative lighting from Luc Peumans (Painting with Light), the producers wanted to present a contemporary version of the classic tale … that retained all the power and magic of the original 1994 Disney musical.

WI delivered four stage elevators, three with 3 metre diameters and one at 4 metres, which were used to bring various scenic pieces on and off stage throughout the performance.

The 3 metre lifts were available from WI’s standard rental inventory. The 4 metre one was specially constructed for this show, also using WI’s standard TP3 elevator system for convenience and continuity.

Control for each elevator - all concealed below the stage - was local, to ensure that the operators had a clear view and could physically see what was happening at all times.

One of several outstanding features of this WI lift is the stability and accuracy of the incorporated WI TP3 elevator system, which offers the smoothest movement at all levels of operations and full (load) capacity at every height. The multi-application elevator system has been designed and built by WIcreations for performer riding and meets all the BGV-C1 requirements with a safety factor of 10:1.

Its positioning is also super-precise, which was vital in this instance for perfect alignment of actors at stage height, and for the smooth changeover of props under the stage. As with all WI products, the elevators are robustly engineered and built from the highest grade components.

Upstage, a 60 metre WI tracking system was installed at the expo to move four large LED screens, each measuring 11.24 metres high by 7.68 metres wide and weighing 3.2 tonnes, into different configurations.

This movement continued throughout the performance and completely changed the dynamics of the space as well as creating a variety of openings for props and actors to enter and exit the stage.

The positional information from the WI controller was synchronised to the media server to allow one large video image to remain across all four screens regardless of their positioning.

Additionally, 30 x WI vari-speed hoists and winches - a mixture of single and double chain - were used to lift and move a variety of props and scenic pieces which flew in and out.

The motors driving the tracking screens and the moving hoists / winches moving the scenery were all controlled from the same custom WI control desk.

Another major Beauty And The Beast set piece to receive the WI treatment was a large staircase which split into two 2.5 tonne sections, both required to move into different locations to assist with the narrative and dance sequences. The stairs, fabricated by Fisheye, were automated using four of WI's wireless remote controlled wagons.

It was originally planned to move these pieces manually, but in tests this proved impractical, so production asked WI to assist with a quick and clean solution at short notice!

The movement was controlled by a dedicated operator using another custom wagon controller developed by WI.

WI’s extensive rental stock of automation elements enables delivery of a diverse range of complete packages quickly and efficiently to a production like this.

A new WI-band hoist will be launched in the spring, developed specifically for the easy movement of props, which will be available for rental.

Hans concluded: "It’s always good to work with a new client and we enjoyed the process with the Marmalade production team”. 

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