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

ME - - Contents -

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

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