Kylie Fletcher — Shedding light on the stars
Kylie Fletcher’s role as a lighting technician and follow spot has seen her work on high-profile musical theatre productions including Oliver, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, WeWill RockYou and Strictly Ballroom. The former Shepparton resident s
You won’t find it on any of the theatre floor plans when buying tickets, but Kylie Fletcher arguably has the best seat in the house.
The lighting technician, formerly a Notre Dame College student, works at great heights above and out of sight of the audience on some of Melbourne’s biggest musical theatre productions.
When ME caught up with Kylie earlier this year, she was working on Strictly Ballroom, a set supervised by the famed director Baz Luhrmann, at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne.
“There is a crew that tours with the show, and also a certain amount of crew that work for the theatre that help when it comes to that location,” Kylie, 35, said.
Kylie is part of the latter crew, based in Melbourne and a majority of her work is with the Marriner Group — the proprietor of several major theatres in the city’s central business district including the Regent Theatre and the Princess Theatre, plus independent venues.
The first part of her role as part of the stationary theatre crew is to set up the lights when the show is checked in and to assist with fitting the props to the theatre. Once the show is on, Kylie operates the ‘follow spot’, the big spotlight that follows performers on stage.
A script, known as the ‘follow spot plot’, directs her as to which performer she must pick up with the light, and when.
“Once I know it, I often don’t need the plot anymore, you memorise it after a while,” she said.
“I really enjoy the skill involved; it is almost like learning dance steps, I have to learn where the actors dance around, learn to read body language and the trick of having to memorise all these different things plus a script.
“There is an art to it.”
Kylie’s theatre career spans nearly 13 years. She started in the industry in 2002, and has since worked on well-known productions such as Oliver, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, We Will Rock You and Strictly Ballroom.
“I love them all for so many different reasons, I just really enjoy being part of something so magical,” Kylie said.
“Of course, for us it is hard work and we know how the magic works, but seeing people excited about what you’ve (helped create is wonderful).”
However, she admitted it wasn’t all bright lights, singing and dancing — with long hours and evenings a part of the job.
“When we set up or ‘bump in’ a new show, it can be 8 am to 11 pm at night,” she said.
“Once the show is rolling it is just evening shows and two matinees. I generally do about four of the eight shows per week, and they normally run for about three months.”
A career highlight was meeting Baz Luhrmann informally offset at the opening night party for Strictly Ballroom, presented by Global Creatures. The director’s well-known films include Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet and Australia.
“I am a big fan of his films, it was definitely a highlight to meet one of my favourite directors,” Kylie said.
“I’m not usually nervous around celebrities, in this industry you are reminded they are just people; but I had to work up the courage to go and say ‘hello’ to him!”
Story: Rhiannon Gavalakis Kylie Fletcher’s role as a lighting technician and follow spot has her scaling to great heights in the musical theatre industry.
Photography: Julie Mercer
Director Baz Luhrmann and wife Cathrine Martin at the red carpet arrivals for the Melbourne premiere of Strictly Ballroom the Musical. AAP Image/David Crosling