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Lighting Designer
Natasha Katz
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In the entertainment world today’s hot news are linked to the name of … a fairy tale, to the romantic and appealing Walt Disney fable of “Beauty and the Beast”, whose musical version is having an exceptional success in Spain. The Lope de Vega Theatre in Madrid is celebrating the second anniversary of this show, which has been a success not only in Spain, if we consider that – up to now – it has been seen by over fifteen million people, from the USA to South America, to Europe.

Inspired by Perrault’s fairy tale, the musical took its story line from the Walt Disney cartoon and began to make its fortune in the USA. It then emigrated to Argentina and finally arrived in Spain, where it has been showing for over two years (instead of the expected six months), before moving on to Brazil. Why has “Beauty and the Beast” been so successful? The answer lies in the magic behind the fairy tale itself, in the intriguing and absolutely up-to-date story line backed by the enchantment of the music and the excitement of the lighting.

In a fairy tale like this, playing more on emotions and atmosphere than on the plot, it is the lighting system that gives tone and character to the show with evocative colours and brilliant effects that arouse emotions. In this regard we can tell you that Natasha Katz signed the lighting design for the musical produced by Walt Disney and directed by Robert Jess Roth.

After careful consideration the American lighting designer, together with special effects manager Ariel Del Mastro, chose Clay Paky lighting and technology.

The choice was directed by the power, richness of colour, imaginative effects and reliability, as well as the technical support guaranteed by Clay Paky at an international level through their own distributors. The “Beauty and the Beast” lighting system includes 37 Stage Zoom 1200s with personalised gobos, 12 Stage Color 1200s and 5 Stage Color 300s. Antonio Agra, chairman of Clay Paky’s distributors in Argentina PSL, had an important role in the preparation of the musical and in putting together a winning work group. He enthused: “A highly professional lighting system is a must to guarantee that the musical is always performed at maximum levels”.

Juan José Almarcha, the Lope de Vega Theatre lighting operator and manager, told us how he has been working with the Clay Paky products: “Lights are a basic component of the show and the Clay Paky projectors have proved themselves as the best choice we could have made, they work evening after evening without any sort of problem. Also, given the technical performances they guarantee, they have made it possible to achieve any colour shading and any desired effect. They have let us show visually the intense emotional impact that flows from the story”. Ariel Del Mastro, too, was very favourably impressed by Clay Paky technology: “The performances given by Stage Color and Stage Zoom are really exceptional, both in terms of lighting quality and in terms of reliability and durability”. Natasha Katz herself has also recommended Clay Paky for other projects, including the Nike Town megastore in London.

But “Beauty and the Beast” is not the only musical which uses Clay Paky products; among others we can mention “My Fair Lady”, “Saturday Night Fever”, “Hello Dolly”, “Grease” and “The Little Horror Shop”…. all shows where visual impression is very important and so where using an advanced lighting system is an essential success factor. We then asked Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Sales Manager for the Americas, what are the added values of Clay Paky projectors that have compelled so many Lighting Designers to choose them for their shows.

“There are a series of features that make Clay Paky mobile units outstanding” – he explained – “power, brilliance, great clarity of image, homogeneity and width of projection, reliability…The aspect of silence is also a very important plus point, this is a basic requirement for a theatrical performance where nothing must interrupt the spoken word, song or music. Clay Paky has always given primary importance to this aspect as the numerous projectors used in theatrical shows throughout the world bear witness. Moreover continual evolution has lead to our Research and Development team improving still further on the already exceptional silence of these models. The result is a new series of “Silent Version” mobile body projectors, specifically designed and manufactured for the professional theatre and TV market”.

“With regards to the true spectacular impact – Francesco Romagnoli continued – operators especially appreciate the versatility of the CMY colour system + Amber filter of the Stage Color 1200 projectors, which were absolutely the first to provide fine pastel shades and the gradual correction of the colour temperature. The Stage Zoom 1200s, on the other hand, are very much liked for the high level of effects achieved, which include fixed and 540° rotational gobos, rotating prisms and fading diffused linear effects”.

So all this tells us why Stage Zoom and Stage Color are the targeted choice and chosen by whoever wants long-term reliability of their lighting system. Time has proven Natasha Katz, Ariel Del Mastro and the entire ensemble of “Beauty and the Beast” right as, over the years, no problems of any kind have ever risen – and only someone working in the field of show business knows how important that is!

So one of the secrets of the amazing success of “Beauty and the Beast” is explained, a masterpiece that has conquered the audiences of the entire world and which is also composed of evocative atmosphere and enchanting lighting effects.