Header image credit: Manuel Harlan
The highly-acclaimed immersive production of Guys & Dolls, directed by Nicholas Hytner at London’s Bridge Theatre, called on all the lighting design skills of leading creative Paule Constable.
Based on Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical comedy about sin and romantic salvation, the creative team’s in-the-round transformation of the theatre auditorium required the lighting to deliver a production taking place on a series of constantly moving lifts. The scenography itself is dominated by Bunny Christie’s mobile stage, with different platforms rising to reveal New York City’s bars, clubs and street corners, and different worlds created in a set that is constantly being reconstructed.
Guys & Dolls at The Bridge Theatre lit by Paule Constable
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan
The need to meet such an exacting creative brief required the theatre’s rental company supplier, Sparks Theatrical Hire to add a further 16 Martin MAC Ultra Performance moving heads to their existing stock to meet widespread demand from theatre LDs—including Constable.
The reason for the profile spot’s enormous popularity is its stupendous power output (46,500 projection lumens) combined with its advanced framing system. Justifying the further investment, Sparks’ director Paul Anderson’s own assessment is that they are “not only stunningly bright, but the dimming is very smooth, and as you would expect, the framing shutters, iris, and frost make this an extremely versatile unit for the theatre environment, not to mention an impressive range of gobos.”
Paule Constable clearly thinks so too. Speaking of her decision making process when working on a show with the audience entirely wrapped around the action, the designer said, “First and foremost it was driven by logistics. The scenic design was based on 14 lifts and around 50 flown light boxes and signs. Therefore we had to negotiate getting around these, and the sound design was a circular array—so logistics were not easy.”
She then needed to ensure that she had access to light every lift and every level that the show required. “And with a series of lifts that are constantly moving that was a big ask.”