WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE CURTAINS?
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.
Get set: Set designer Paul Lunnon fireproofing the revolving stage