UK – Olivier and Tony Award winning lighting designer Mark Henderson has chosen to use Clay Paky Sharpys to deliver his exciting ‘concert performance’ lighting for the glittering stage production of The Bodyguard, at the Adelphi Theatre on London’s Strand.
Based on the original film, made famous by actress and pop diva Witney Houston, the stage version stars Heather Headley who has garnered rave reviews for her interpretation of theatre and music star Rachel Marron.
The stage show combines theatrical dialogue scenes with spectacular ‘in concert’ drama and ‘film award ceremony’ glitter. In response Henderson has designed a hybrid theatre / ‘in concert’ rig in what proved to be a limited amount of space.
Taking up much of the hanging real estate is Tim Hatley’s inspired set, which comprises a series of sliders that open and close on all planes. These are used to create various different size apertures in which each scene unfolds. Henderson’s choice of fixture was therefore governed by the nature of the scenic design and the physical space he had available.
For the ‘in performance’ songs Henderson chose to have all or some of the rig exposed to the audience. “It was really important to me that that the rig was able to deliver a ‘concert style’ look and feel,” he explains. “I used the ubiquitous tight beam Clay Paky Sharpys to cut through the smoke and haze and to give me a look that’s synonymous with popular music today. The Sharpys also enabled me to create some fantastic mid air effects, which added a distinctive, colourful and lively look to the ‘in concert’ scenes.”
The ‘concert’ lighting has to appear and disappear from view throughout the show so fixtures could not be too cumbersome. Production electrician Fraser Hall and production manager Matt Towell created a downstage mini-grid area, which enabled the proscenium flats, which support a vertical array of Sharpys either side, to be pivoted. This effectively has the Sharpys rigged on their sides permanently. Deputy lighting manager for the show, Germaine Williams, says he is impressed with the Sharpys as they have been extremely reliable and have required very little maintenance.
White Light supplied the lighting equipment for the show, hire director Dave Isherwood, comments: “It’s a great pleasure, as always, to be working with Mark Henderson. His talent for picking the tools that perfectly suit the needs of each show he lights was no less sharp on The Bodyguard. We were delighted to be able to supply him with some of the latest technology, including Clay Paky’s tiny yet powerful Sharpys.”
Glyn O’Donoghue, managing director for Clay Paky’s UK distributor, Ambersphere, concludes: “Mark Henderson’s lighting very successfully evokes the changing times, places, moods and atmospheres of the story but it also seamlessly delivers some impressive ‘concert style’ performance lighting when required. With limited space to hang dynamic live music style lighting the Clay Paky Sharpy was the ideal choice. Not only is it relatively lightweight – just 19Kg – but its small footprint and robust build make it ideal for use on a show that stages eight busy performances per week.”