WHAT GOES ON BE­HIND THE CUR­TAINS?

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

EVER won­dered, when you are watch­ing live theatre, videos or films, what makes the ac­tors look great, the sit­u­a­tion in which they find them­selves, or who makes sure they can be seen and heard?

The peo­ple who per­form on our stages around the coun­try whether it be am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional, rely on a host of other peo­ple who stay “on the dark side” or in the shad­ows.

Good­night Mr Tom The Mu­si­cal, is be­ing per­formed by the Panda Play­ers at The El­giva from Wed­nes­day, March 9 to Satur­day, March 12, and usu­ally the ac­tors and singers are the ones that have their pho­tos in the pa­pers to pub­li­cise the show, but Panda has de­cided to lift the veil on their “dark side” and let you see what goes on be­hind the cur­tain.

This year, the group’s set has been de­signed and built, not by one of the pro­fes­sional scenery com­pa­nies but by the com­pany’s very own Paul Lun­non, who has a work­shop in Har­row.

He makes a scale model of the set, which he shows to the di­rec­tor Am­ber Dyer, and when he has dis­cussed all the var­i­ous scenes with her and the pro­duc­tion team, he pre­pares draw­ings, starts build­ing and paint­ing the set.

He has built sets for the group be­fore for Fid­dler on the Roof, Pip­pin and Re­turn to the For­bid­den Planet to name but a few.

There is then the pres­sure to en­sure that all this work is fin­ished in time be­cause he is such a per­fec­tion­ist.

This year is no ex­cep­tion, the show has a re­volv­ing stage with a lot of scenery on it plus the cast.

The group’s res­i­dent pro­duc­tion man­ager Andy Friedli over­sees the pro­duc­tion and is the light­ing de­signer.

He has a 13 strong pro­duc­tion team in­clud­ing three light­ing crew, three sound crew, Paul, the group’s set de­signer and builder, the stage man­age­ment team and not for­get­ting make-up and props.

Of course, be­cause of the chil­dren in the cast, there is also a child pro­tec­tion team.

The show will have 48 mi­cro­phones, more than 50 sound ef­fects, 48 chan­nel Yamaha QL5 mixer to­gether with nearly 100 lights which in­cludes 10 au­to­mated lights and mul­ti­ple LED fix­tures, plus generic lanterns on the new Zero887 FLX con­soles.

All this takes weeks of plan­ning and quite a few favours pulled in, be­cause am­a­teur theatre is re­ally find­ing the present eco­nomic cli­mate dif­fi­cult to bal­ance with the ex­pec­ta­tions of the pay­ing pub­lic.

Panda is ex­tremely lucky in that it has two res­i­dent wardrobe mis­tresses.

He­len Turner and Frances New­man ran­sack the group’s cos­tume store to dress all the char­ac­ters and when there is not a cos­tume, they make it.

What a sav­ing for the group, as most am­a­teur com­pa­nies have to hire their cos­tumes at about £20 per out­fit

Tr­ish Lewis from the group said: “All th­ese jobs take hours to plan and ex­e­cute but they are all am­a­teurs who give of their time freely and thank good­ness they do.

“Thank you ‘dark side’ of Panda.

“It now re­mains for me to say, come and see what they have done with this lovely story set at the be­gin­ning of the Se­cond World War when a group of chil­dren are sent away from the bomb­ing in Lon­don and live in a fic­tional vil­lage in Dorset.”

The Panda Play­ers is of­fer­ing free seats to any lo­cal res­i­dents, who were evac­uees in the Se­cond World War and to hon­our them at their Wed­nes­day night per­for­mance.

The chil­dren in the cast are look­ing for­ward to hear­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences and see how they dif­fer but also how sim­i­lar their sto­ries are to the ones in the show.

If you are el­i­gi­ble and would like to take Panda Play­ers up on the of­fer, call Tr­ish Lewis on 01296 622 204.

Tick­ets cost £17 (adult), £15.50 (conc) and £12 (child).

To book tick­ets call 01494 582 900 or visit www.el­giva.com.

PHO­TOS: PAUL H LUN­NON

Get set: Set de­signer Paul Lun­non fire­proof­ing the re­volv­ing stage

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