‘Commodore of Camp’ Julian Clary is back on the road sharing plenty of hilarious good filth across the UK on his ‘Born to Mince’ tour which has just finished its first leg. The acclaimed, seriously funny and popular comedian, actor, writer and TV presenter thrilled audiences nationwide delivering dollops of his unique close-to-the-bone banter, action-packed with innuendo and fun.
Visuals are important to comedy performance, helping to develop the mood and deliver the punchlines, and with a one-person stand-up routine, these need to be eye-catching but not distracting. The spectacular backdrop upstage of Julian was custom made and delivered by S+H Technical Support.
The colourful pink and purple 7 x 5 metre silk-lined printed ShowLED starcloth contains 1,100 warm-white LEDs that outline large pink letters making up the artist’s name and swoosh up in fan-like lines from these in the centre to the outside edges.
There is a conduit pocket in the bottom for weighting and eradicating wrinkles, and it folds down elegantly into a neat trunk for transportation in the back of an SUV.
The design was based on the tour’s poster / promotional artwork and visuals, and it also matches beautifully with Julian’s impressive array of flamboyant costumes designed by Hugh Durrant.
The idea of touring a scenic backdrop which would also take on the role of a straightforward but striking set was initiated by Bex Cliff who stage manages and co-ordinates all things technical for Julian on the road, including operating the lighting.
She’s worked with starcloths on various other shows and hit on the idea of combining a scenic piece with twinkling elements – adding that all-important hint of glamour – as a perfect touch for this tour.
Bex in turn was recommended by several people to drapes and starcloth experts S+H. She contacted Terry Murtha and the team in Ilfracombe, Devon, and was impressed by their work on various other specialist projects, as well as their friendly and accessible approach. They started looking at fabrics, the printing process, the LEDs, etc. to get started, and then chose the spacing of the LEDs which are at 75mm centres to one another.
Bex reckons that working with S+H and the end results “exceeded my expectations.”
Terry Murtha says, “Julian Clary has made us all laugh for many years, so we were very honoured to be involved in creating this elegant visual solution – which looks fantastic – for the tour.”
The artist is also delighted.
“I was very excited as it was the last piece of the jigsaw to arrive at rehearsals and complete the stage presentation. It’s really attractive and sets the right tone as well as fitting into pretty much any space we are playing and being quick and efficient for Bex to rig each day” stated Julian.
He adds that they have had some great feedback from the public, lots of positive interaction on socials and they have also seen some impressive photos.
The tour played numerous one-offs and back-to-backs throughout the UK from March to June so getting in / out and rigging time was a major consideration.
Bex also likes the flexibility it brings to the show.
“The combination of the different colours and the LEDs give it a proper 3D appearance.” Usually, she will use some of the venue’s front wash lights for its general illumination. Aware that starcloths themselves can sometimes be tiring to look at from an audience perspective if they are too full-on, with this, the intensities of the LEDs can be pulled right down. “You can still get the WOW effect without it being overpowering.”
The DMX controlled LEDs were running through the lighting console operated by Bex standing stage left in the wings. A myriad of effects were possible, from just outlining the letters to having rays of LEDs pulsating up or down the cloth plus many others relevant to what was happening onstage. “We were finding new possibilities all the time; it is incredibly versatile,” she concluded.
Photos: Lindsay Cave