The fascinating story of Jack Kelly is on stage at the Teatro Nazionale in Milan. It is inspired by the true story of the news boys’ strike in 1899, when it was the news boys themselves who sold the papers. They were mostly teenagers between thirteen and sixteen years old who bought the copies from the publishers and then tried to sell them at their own risk: unsold copies were not returned.
Jack Kelly, the charismatic leader of a gang of young messed-up newsies, dreams of better conditions far from the adversities of street life. When the publishing giants raise distribution prices at the expense of the news boys, Jack sees a reason to fight and persuades the young retailers throughout the city to go on strike for their rights.
Disney made a film from the story in the 1990s, which was a box office flop. However it turned into a cult classic in America when it came out on VHS. Twenty years later, the musical has become an unexpected international success: audiences amounting to a million people on Broadway, a tour in the States, and now a début in Europe, in Italy.
Lighting designer Valerio Tiberi tells us about his design for the show. Musicals are usually a very dynamic form of narrative, which require lights that can be controlled rapidly and change colour quickly: “Every project stems from looking particularly at what the story is trying to say to the audience that comes to the show. This audience always expects to be emotionally involved in the story.”
The story is set in New York at the end of the nineteenth century and is mainly told by the characters. “I emphasize their facial expressions and actions using light. For this, I mainly use the follow spots and lights arranged in the auditorium with very horizontal angles, which literally make their presence and stories shine. The light and colour balance I use on the background comes mainly from my experience in the dance world, where you use very clear side lighting and back lighting to pick out the characters on a very bright backdrop.”
Clay Paky lights were chosen for “their versatility and precision”, as well as the need to use equipment able to ensure uniform shades and temperatures for each colour.
The silent Alpha Profile 1500 combines a powerful lamp with an exclusive framing system, designed and patented by Clay Paky, which is able to generate countless shapes in multiple dimensions. Twenty-two of them have been arranged on a grid of battens and act mainly as special effect lights. They are widely used for the quality of their beam shaper, colours and gobos, as well as their range of effects, innovative “stay-sharp-zoom” system for autofocus, and frost filter synchronized with the zoom for an extremely gradual wash effect.
“The Alpha Wash Halo 1200, which I love, combines brightness characteristics with the versatility of a halogen lamp. I use twenty-three of them on the characters to emphasize their skin tones, thanks to the warm colour that tungsten gives.”
The show is produced by WEC Entertainment Spa together with Bags Live and Disney International. Audiolux Srl supplied the rented equipment.