Blithe spirits


Off Broadway developed an English accent this summer. Now at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, If Love Were All, a revue about the friendship of English stage stars Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, is drawn from Coward's plays, songs, and memoirs. The show, which stars Twiggy as Lawrence (below) and Harry Groener as Coward, unfolds on Tony Walton's Art Deco set.

Lincoln used a richly colored palette to give the production an extra touch of theatricality. He says, "Leigh [Lawson, the director] wanted each number to have its own individual look." Thus Groener's rendition of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" is punctuated by a series of cues that constantly increase the intensity of the stage wash. The rowdy vaudeville-style number "Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?" is performed complete with footlights (R40 strips with PAR-38 lamps), which bathe the stage in red--an appropriate choice since the number comes from the one-act play Red Peppers.

There are many other moments that make creative use of lighting. A scene from the one-act Shadow Play features Twiggy and Groener silhouetted against the white Viennese drapery that covers much of the rear wall. The preset features a scrim depicting the streetlights of London; the lampposts' globes were treated with UV paint on which were focused Altman blacklights. "It was a huge problem trying to get those globes lit without getting anything on the white chiffon drape behind it. We had to get the blacklights as low as we possibly could and shoot up into the scrim." Clouds projected by gobos completes the look.

The most complicated number is "I Like America," performed by Twiggy as a tap routine. Lincoln used color treatments to create red and white, then blue and white, stripes on the drapes, then adding spinning stars, courtesy of Rosco Gobo Rotators, for the proper all-American look. "The red and blue stripes come from mini-strips that are on a big, angled pipe behind the white chiffon drop. We had to practically take apart the Source Fours to get the shutters to do those angles."

Other pieces of the equipment puzzle include 200-plus ETC Source Fours, over a dozen Wybron Coloram scrollers, and an ETC Obsession 600 console, along with ETC Hi-Density Sensor 24x2kW dimmer racks. The show also uses a Robert Juliat followspot, a novelty for the designer. "It was very good. We needed an angle that would allow us to hit the top of the step pyramid" located at rear center stage. "We couldn't get the right angle from the booth, because we run into the ceiling overhead," from the theatre's balcony. "So we built a puppet followspot booth in the balcony, right behind the seats." Lincoln was concerned about the followspot generating noise in that position, but "you literally do not hear it."

Lighting equipment was supplied Production Arts. Other key personnel on the production included associate LD Jeff Nellis, assistant LD Hilary Manners, master electrician Sheila Donovan, production electrician Donald Kimmel, and technical supervisor Rob Conover.