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Neil White’s Sound of Music tour blog – part six  
Neil White's tour blog is taken over again - this time the lighting team shed some light on their department...
Connie Fisher in The Sound of Music

Hi – again my blog has been taken over – Chris Vaughan our Chief Lx (Lighting and Effects) this time…

Neil x

So, The Sound of Music tour is coming to its end in Milton Keynes, our fourth venue – one would say that normally myself and Len (deputy chief lx) would be bored silly by venue number four but not on this show as there is so much to do, and as for Nick (assistant lx), this is his first tour – so every day is exciting.

As a department we look after all the lighting and smoke effects on the tour. The average day consists of coming in three hours before show time to do our rig checks. Doing the rig check can be fun as anything can happen! Nick comes in with his eager attitude to learn – except those odd days he comes in with a headache, or as the boy from primary school who has a little smug smile and cheeky face – I wonder who he has got that from? Some days the lighting rig behaves very well and other days we can have a bit of a nightmare. Most of our problems tend to be caused by things like a broken moving light or a broken scroller. Sometimes we will work right up until the auditorium opens in order to have a fully operational rig.

One of the main reasons for having someone like Len on the team is that he is what we call “A Moving Light Goddess”. I first met Len on the Cats tour where he was my contact for Stage Electrics when our moving lights failed. Unfortunately for Stage Electrics I stole Len when I joined the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tour. Everyone in the department looks after specific things, for example Len looks after moving lights; Nick looks after smoke effects, practicals and scrollers; and I have the lovely role of doing the relight and overseeing the department. But all three of us do tend to get involved with every aspect of the show, and when Automation or the stage carpenters have problems we all work as a big team.

Due to the large scale of the rig every Friday is maintenance day. This is when we drop overhead lighting trusses to service and inspect every light we use. During venue moves, equipment can get damaged so this gives us the opportunity to fix and improve the way things are put together. Not only is Friday maintenance day but it’s what we call “Elvis Fridays”! The keyboard amp comes onstage and Elvis is played as loud as possible, sometimes people catch us dancing and doing Elvis impressions while servicing the lighting rig. Many people may find this strange but for us it gets a little mind-numbing cleaning colour modules from 10am till 4:30pm.

Every venue so far has been fantastic! With James (Technical Assistant Stage Manager) and Len backstage during a show we always seem to have the catch up gossip in the interval. From showing the poor Wardrobe Department frightening videos to the point of being barred from the department, to labelling Stevie’s (Master Carpenter) tools to make him cross – we seem to have a giggle while working. Here in Milton Keynes, on Friday 6th November, the crew, along with Neil White our Company Manager, arranged for a fireworks display outside the theatre for our wonderful cast, children and staff. The theatre agreed to keep the front of house bar open and use the outside garden for setting the fireworks off. Stage Electrics very kindly sent us an extra lighting desk so Len could use the shows’ spare moving lights to do a light show while myself, Stevie, James and Rob (Sound No2) had the scary job of setting of the fireworks. The light show and fireworks were a fantastic success! Bless the Von Trapp kids, you have never heard screaming like it whilst the fireworks were going off. This was followed by the theatre foyer staying open for the children, cast and crew to have a small disco. Things like this keep everyone happy and it is always nice to do something different.

Next venue is Sunderland and what a wonderful venue it will be, apparently there are 11 Greggs bakers in Sunderland but we have only ever found 9, this could be our challenge for the next 3 weeks…

Anyway I have never done a blog before so – I am going to stop writing just in case Neil reads this and finds out what else we get up to !

Chris x

Posted on: 13th November 2009

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